Charities offered rental at 90% discount
A FAMILY who ran a popular Indian restaurant in Derby for 12 years now want to hand the building over to a charity.
Bobby Sodhi and his family ran the Jewel of India, in Southmead Way, Littleover, until last year when they decided they no longer wanted to work 18-hour days.
Mr Sodhi is now broadening his property business but the family still owns the restaurant building.
He is in talks with KFC, which he says has wanted to open a drive-through there for the past five years. But that deal could take some time to complete, so the family wants to help a charity and put something back into the community.
"It could be empty for another two years but we don't want it standing there with no one in it," said Mr Sodhi.
"We've had interest from a couple of businesses but what we want to do, particularly my mother, is give something back."
"We are looking to rent the building out to a charity at a substantially reduced rate – 90% reduced.
"We could be tens of thousands of pounds worse off financially this way but it is something we really want to do in the short term."
The former restaurant, near the Aldi supermarket, is on a large site, which Mr Sodhi said made it "suitable for various types of charities".
"The building is large, so it could be separated into two units for two charities.
"It could be that just one charity would like the space, for example a group that sells furniture to raise money for charity, or someone running a soup kitchen.
"There are lots of possibilities."
The Jewel of India was open for 12 years and Mr Sodhi said his family had enjoyed running the business and serving their regular customers. But he said trade had slowed down in recent years.
"The hours were one thing but trade itself wasn't as strong as it was some years ago. We would have liked to carry on serving the customers but, after years of KFC approaching us, we thought that could be something to move forward with in the future.
"The restaurant closed in the summer last year and the building hasn't had much use since then. The building itself is less than 20 years old and we think it could be a great base for a charity for a couple of years."
The move could also save the family from having to pay out thousands of pounds – possibly up to £21,000 – in empty property taxes during those two years.
The tax is charged per month after a building has been empty for three months.
But if it is occupied the tax is not charged and, once those occupiers leave, a further three-month rate-free period is started while new occupiers are sought.
Stephen Salloway of Salloways property consultants in Derby, said: "It is worth doing and I think there is the general view that the empty property tax is an unfair tax and so it is fair game to do whatever you can within the law to avoid having to pay it."
A charity will not have to pay business rates to occupy the property.
Any charities interested in leasing the building at the heavily discounted rate should call Mr Sodhi on 07802 442434.