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Caf é closure difficult for property owner

Whyte Horse Café owners have given a new definition to the term dine ‘n dash.

Whyte Horse Café owners have given a new definition to the term dine ‘n dash.

Surrounding businesses of the downtown Canmore eatery were given the impression by owners Kari Scott-Whyte and Tobias Jakaitis last Thursday (July 14) that the café was undergoing renovations over the weekend.

However, by Friday (July 15) morning everything related to the business was removed overnight.

The midnight move has left property owner Elaine Lee beside herself after friends in town let her know her tenants had closed up shop and moved without so much as letting their own staff know.

Lee has made a complaint to the RCMP because the building was stripped bare with even bathroom sinks and toilets missing.

Lee said some of the property at the location belonged to her and was lent to the café for its use under the lease agreement.

“They took everything… it’s not right,” she said in an interview with the Outlook this week. “That really hurts me I was very kind to them and did not push because I understand what it is like to go through hard times.”

She said the café owners told her they were having business problems and had not paid rent since April. Lee added the business owners had also failed to pay property taxes and utilities – all things that now fall to her.

“I am really upset,” she said. “I never thought they would do this… I have known them for 10 years.”

In addition to running the café the owners had recently expanded the upstairs space to create Glue Factory, a venue for music and arts.

Lee, however, was unaware of the expansion and had not given permission either through lease conditions or verbally for the changes made.

Lee, who formerly owned the Famous Chinese Restaurant in town, has retired to care for her mother in Calgary.

She said she is shocked by what has happened, which puts her in a difficult financial position. While having been taken advantage of Lee said she hopes sharing her story will serve as a cautionary tale to others.

To add insult to injury, adjacent business owners discovered a horse skull, spine and rib bones left on the front lawn Friday morning.

A request for more information from the RCMP in relation to the complaint made by Lee was not returned by the Outlook’s press deadline.


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