Italian restaurant in Edinburgh could close down due to tram works despite £120,000 investment by owner

La Riva, on Assembly Street in Leith, has seen a dramatic fall in takings since work began.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 6:44 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 6:47 am

The owner of a restaurant in Leith has said he is on the verge of closing down due to a dramatic drop in income following the start of the tram works.

La Riva, which sits on Assembly Street, was opened by Davida Scuccato six months ago as his first Edinburgh restaurant.

The 50-year-old chef, who worked for La Favorita and had a business in Linlithgow, invested £120,000 to start the restaurant with his business partner.

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Davida Scuccato and business partner Marvin Krauze outside their La Riva restaurant

However, after a tough couple of months settled down, the start of the tram works in mid-November have led to a serious drop in business.

Mr Scuccato, from Vicenza in Italy, said he now has a "big problem" and is not sure how long he can continue losing money.

He said: "Now it is very dangerous because two weeks ago they closed the road and street with the work out the front. I now have a big problem.

"Two weeks ago I was coming in and while I didn’t make good money I wasn’t losing money, now I’m losing money.

"I have business rates and rent to pay and I had to fire two guys last week because of it."

Request to put a sign up refused

Mr Scuccato asked for the council's help in a desperate attempt to save his business, but a request to have a sign installed was refused.

He said: "The problem is the street because last month takings were good but it was two weeks ago it started and nobody was coming. All the bookings for December have been cancelled because there is very little parking.

"I asked the council to put a sign in the street and they said no. Nobody can see my restaurant because of all of the work. It is impossible to see."

He added that now he did not know whether his business will survive the winter unless something changes fast.

Mr Scuccato said: "I don’t know if we will close, I want to stay open, I don’t want to close. I put all my money into the business.

"I don’t want money, I just want help with not paying business rates or maybe paying it later."

£2.4m business support scheme from council

Edinburgh City Council does have a business support scheme in place with £2.4m committed to pay for logistic hubs, on-street customer service staff, a dedicated business support team and local discounts for businesses.

A Trams to Newhaven project spokesperson said: “Taking trams to Newhaven will unlock the potential of the whole of north Edinburgh, opening the area up to a wealth of opportunities in terms of jobs, housing and local facilities and giving the city’s top employers a safe, accessible, reliable mass transit public transport link into one of the most densely populated parts of Scotland.

“Since planning began on this latest phase of trams we’ve been working with businesses along the route to find out what help and support would be most beneficial to maintain the vibrancy and attractiveness of the area during construction.

"We continue to meet businesses on Constitution Street regularly to evaluate the impact of these measures and will look to do the same when construction starts on other phases of the project, including Leith Walk.

"The construction phase is undoubtedly a challenging time for the area and we want to minimise disruption where possible and ensure businesses take advantage of the support measures we’ve put in place.”