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New Restaurant Plans Anger Local Businessman

The owner of a popular local restaurant has expressed his discontent over plans to open a similar style restaurant in Penicuik’s faltering town centre.

Roberto Pia, owner of Little Italy, has spoken out about a restaurant tycoon’s plans to open a ‘Mediterranean Steakhouse’ in the former L’Amitie unit in the shopping precinct.

Mr Ibrar Ibrahim has submitted formal plans for alterations to the empty unit, which neighbours a charity shop and a now vacant hot food takeaway, with hopes that these changes will allow 44A John Street to operate as a ‘steakhouse’. Whilst the space itself has class A3 permission to operate as a restaurant, the new owner has applied for a change to the opening hours, along with some other minor physical alterations. It is this application which has came under fire from the established member of Penicuik’s business community.

Little Italy’s owner showed his anger towards the proposal, and Midlothian Council, through a comment section on the local authority’s planning portal:

I am trying to understand why the council keep letting people open more eateries when the ones that Penicuik already have are already under pressure. Then letting this place open will only mean that we would have went from no Italian restaurants to 3! I mean lets take a good look around the area and you will notice that Chens Kitchen is already shut after a year being open. If the council keep letting them open I would have no choice but to close the doors of my own business!

Mr Pia now hopes that this application will be binned so that Mr Ibrahim’s ‘Marco Polo’ steakhouse is delivered a blow which will either delay or deter the tycoon from opening in the town.

We spoke to Roberto Pia who in turn told us that his anger is felt by many locals, especially those who wish for a return to Penicuik’s thriving past. To date four online objections have been lodged however the businessman is hoping now that the community will rally to block the new opening. In return Mr Pia is aiming to initialise his plans to open a new mixed use retail unit in the town centre.

With collective support from the local community, family businesses and Midlothian Council, Roberto Pia is hoping to establish a market space with a unit in the heart of Penicuik. He wishes to acquire the large former M&Co retail space, which is currently occupied by St Margaret of Scotland’s Hospice on a short term no commitment basis. By acquiring this unit Mr Pia will aim to attract at least ten businesses who will each pay a fraction of the £55k rent for a six month term. He hopes that this will help young and old entrepreneurs launch their new business from a safe, all expenses included, low rent, market space. The long term dream is that these businesses will eventually be able to afford a high street unit in Penicuik.

To many Roberto Pia’s idea may sound idealistic but the businessman is committed to usher in a new era for our commuter town’s economy. We will now have to wait to see when this more prosperous era will arrive.