The owner of a renowned Glasgow restaurant who has retained all of his staff amid the coronavirus crisis has hammered home his belief that businesses such as his should be supported, after having a £25,000 grant funding application turned down.

Marco Giannasi’s application for the grant funding was rejected because a massive hike in the rateable value of the Battlefield Rest at the last revaluation took him above the £51,000 threshold for this assistance put in place by the Scottish Government.

He declared he was “proud” to have retained all of his employees, noting other independent restaurants had also done so and contrasting this behaviour with that of some of the big chains.

Mr Giannasi said: “A business should be judged as a business. A business is retaining all the staff, they are doing a good job, they are profitable, and that is the one you are supposed to support more…

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“There have been so many chain restaurants closed down or made redundancies. They should really support good businesses to maintain them and keep them going more than ever…I really get wound up about this.”

He added: “I was quite proud that we kept all the staff… I retained all of them. I avoided…what big chains are doing just now – [getting] rid of staff. We didn’t. We kept all the staff.”

Referring to the Scottish Government, Mr Giannasi declared: “In the big spectrum of business, I don’t know what their priority is…

“I am getting so frustrated by these things. It is annoying.”

He added: “I am sure I speak for a lot of other restaurants.”

Mr Giannasi, who has borrowed extra money from his bank as a result of the grant situation, said the current arrangements were “discriminating on the basis of rateable value, not on the Covid issue”.

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He added: “I still can’t understand why they put £51,000 as the threshold for limiting businesses to claim. At the end of the day, we have to spend a lot of money in the kitchen, [on] screening, all the sanitation.”

Mr Giannasi, who owns and runs the Battlefield Rest on the south side of Glasgow with his wife Yellena, reopened the restaurant on July 15, in line with Scottish Government guidance.

He noted he had spent at least £20,000 in total on remodelling the kitchen to enable staff to social distance, on other coronavirus-related measures such as screens, sanitisers, and signage, and on ensuring all employees could be retained amid the crisis.

The work on the kitchen alone had cost between £10,000 and £15,000, he noted.

The restaurant business used the UK Government coronavirus job retention scheme to support the furlough of its workforce during the period it had to close. All employees have now already returned to work, following the reopening.

The business has a workforce of 16, including its owners.

The Battlefield Rest’s capacity has been reduced by about 30 and is now 35 as a result of its remodelling to adjust for the arrangements put in place amid the pandemic. Its number of tables has been reduced from 21 to 14.

Mr Giannasi, who said he had received a £5,900 grant through Scottish Enterprise, said the takeaway service launched when the restaurant reopened on July 15 was helping make up for the impact of the reduction in sit-in capacity.

He noted the restaurant was able to offer a few outside tables in good weather, and a hatch has been introduced for takeaway orders to manage the flow of people through the front door.

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Asked how the takeaway business was going, Mr Giannasi replied: “It is good. The interest was better than expected. It is an extra service which compensates for the 30 seats that we lost.”

Mr Giannasi noted that the Battlefield Rest was receiving a boost from the UK Government-funded “eat out to help out” initiative, which had boosted lunchtime bookings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

He added: “People are getting more and more confident to go out and to see we have all the measures in place we can possibly do.”

However, he highlighted likely further challenges for the restaurant sector when various support schemes came to an end, in the likes of November and January.

Mr Giannasi added: “We are not struggling but to make the place secure for the future, you need to have some capital in the backlog just in case.”

He had tweeted on Friday: “This morning I received the answer from my Grant application from the GCC [Glasgow City Council] and NO! Why? Because our business rates were increased by 411% on the last revaluation therefore not eligible because we are over the £51000 threshold.”

The Herald reported in March 2018 that more than 1,000 signatures had been secured in just four days by Mr Giannasi as he stepped up his campaign at that stage against the massive increase in his business rates bill.

Mr Giannasi, who has owned the Battlefield Rest for around a quarter of a century, said then that his rates bill would rise by 411% because of the most recent revaluation of non-domestic properties, in 2017. A hike in rateable value meant his annual business rates bill would increase by nearly £27,000 – if his appeal to the local rates assessor was thrown out – he noted then.

The rateable value of Mr Giannasi’s restaurant rose to £67,500 under the 2017 revaluation, from £16,800 five years previously. Mr Giannasi insisted in 2018 that there had been no major developments in the intervening period that could justify the increase.

Following the appeal, he had the rateable value reduced from the £67,500 proposed to £59,000. However, this reduced figure is around three-and-a-half times what the rateable value was prior to the 2017 revaluation and, crucially, it is above the £51,000 threshold for the grant support he was seeking.

Properties with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £18,000 are entitled to rates relief of 25% in normal circumstances.