CUSTOMERS are rallying round a burger restaurant after its owners lost a £125,000 court battle over serving pink burgers.
The phone never stopped yesterday at 6 oz Burgers in Osborne Road, Southsea, as people wanted to show their support and many booked tables for large groups.
It comes as the future of the business hangs in the balance after owners James Baldry and Piotr Mientkiewicz lost their fight with Portsmouth City Council.
The pair fought the council after it forced the item off the menu over concerns about safety.
Now after spending around £100,000 on legal fees, the pair are uncertain if they can carry on at the restaurant as they may also have to pay the council’s legal fees, understood to be £25,000.
Mr Baldry, 32, told The News: ‘We have had lots of people trying to book.
‘We have had lots of calls, emails and lots of stuff left by Facebook and Twitter.
‘Most people are sympathetic to us.
‘Why is a small business being picked on? A couple of people have said that.’
Mr Baldry said he is thinking about taking the case to the High Court and will be speaking to lawyers to seek advice.
He said: ‘We actually did nothing wrong.
‘The most respected food microbiologist in the country did his detailed report and his conclusion was there was no imminent risk.’
He added: ‘It’s expensive but when you know you have done nothing wrong, you need to stand up for yourself.’
Other business owners in the area were supporting 6oz Burgers.
Nadine Blauwblomme, who is French and runs Cheese and Cheers a few doors down Osborne Road, said: ‘I think people should have the right to choose how they want their meat cooked.
‘It’s the responsibility of the consumer.’
She added that she did not want the restaurant to close as it was ‘good to have variety’ in the street.
Microbiologists, experts from the Food Standards Agency, council officers and the pair’s butcher and an abattoir all gave evidence in court over four days.
District Judge Anthony Callaway, sitting at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, ruled the council was right to issue the ban.
Richard Lee, the council’s environmental health manager, said: ‘The Food Standards Agency’s advice to the public is that they should cook burgers until none of the meat is pink.
‘The FSA’s advice to councils is that they should take action against businesses serving undercooked meat, to protect public health – unless a proper method is used to make it safe. The heart of this case was the absence of a proper method, which the council believed put the public at imminent risk. This is why we issued an emergency notice, banning the sale of undercooked burgers.
‘Backing our position in court was lead public health microbiologist James McLauchlin from Public Health England.’