Port Solent firm Relentless Steak and Lobster involved in 'barney with council' over new Portsdown Hill pitch before last minute resolution

A RESTAURANT owner preparing to replace a popular long-running mobile burger bar at an in-demand hotspot has revealed he nearly pulled out at the last minute after a ‘barney with the council’.

By Steve Deeks
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 4:55 am

Scott Matthews, who runs Port Solent-based Relentless Steak and Lobster House, was expected to open his mobile food van at the site of the now departed Route 66 Burger Bar on Southwick Road, on Portsdown Hill, in April.

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The business owner was previously involved in a war of words with Route 66 owner Steve Bray after winning the tender for the spot.

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Relentless Steak and Lobster House owner Scott Matthews. Picture: Sarah Standing (040321-4180)

Scott said his staff were subjected to abuse after winning the pitch after replacing Steve who left the location after eight-and-a-half-years. Steve is now based at another site along Portsdown Hill.

After overcoming that battle, Scott declared his excitement at his impending opening. ‘We can’t wait,’ he said.

But as the weeks have gone on questions and rumours from the hill have been raised over the delay.

Speaking to The News, Scott admitted there had been an ‘unexpected spanner in the works’ with a tense few days of talks taking place with the council.

But the lease has now been signed and Relentless will finally take the spot - but possibly not until later in the summer.

Scott said the bone of contention surrounded his plea to have a refrigeration van in addition to his main trailer, allowing him to store more fresh food at the location and prevent staff ‘constantly going up and down’ to Port Solent to fetch more.

But Scott said the request was turned down by the council.

He said: ‘We had a barney with the council and tried to get over the refrigeration issue - which we couldn’t. But we thought it was too much of a golden opportunity and will now open at some point later in the year.

‘It did throw a spanner in the works but we couldn’t say no. The lease is all done and signed now.

‘We will now have to adapt our van and spend more money. We will have to hire someone to run and and down to the restaurant.’

Scott said he will have to spend upwards of another £10,000, taking the total outlay in getting ready for the site to around £100,000.

But the restaurateur said he has ‘no regrets’ and looks forward to offering gourmet burgers and lobsters, as well as Costa Coffee for punters from 8am to 11pm. He also plans to deliver to people’s homes.

Scott, speaking of other tender processes, such as the decision to award Seahorse Coffee Bar the pitch at Hundred Acre Wood, said: ‘No one is safe from renewal. You just have to put the best tender in you can.

‘It happens all the time that people lose their pitches. There is no auto-renew for businesses.’

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Scott did not want to put a date on when they might open but admitted it could be as late in the summer as August.

A council spokesman said: 'The council is in the process of finalising documentation with Relentless, and can't comment any further at this time.'