PLANS to reopen The Salt House which was repossessed by Barnsley Council after the owner fell behind on his rent payments to the tune of more than £100,000 are now well underway - after its new owner got the keys to the unit on Wednesday.
Luke Stone, 32, from Manchester, made his name through his dad’s VIP coach company to the stars and Premier League footballers - but it’s always been his dream to open up his own bar.
When former councillor and ex-owner of the venue Mat Crisp conceded he would no longer be able to proceed with keeping the bar, Luke jumped at the opportunity.
As part of the deal, the new owners have paid an amount equivalent to the previous tenant’s outstanding arrears to reimburse the public purse.
The Chronicle understands the previous tenant will still be pursued for the full amount of rent they owed.
Luke said: “The debt was one of the main issues from the council.
“A lot of people are asking on social media ‘why would anyone pay off the previous tenant’s arrears?’
“I could have approached the council and said those arrears are not associated to me but to stop it going to market and being up against big competition my offer was to clear all of the arrears, which amounted to over £100,000.
“It’s amazing to be able to give back public funding at the same time and the council have been unbelievable.”
It’s understood that the former workforce are owed wages - but he said that’s not something that ‘lies with him’.
“It’s very difficult for me to comment on what the previous tenant did and didn’t do,” he added.
“I’ve told the staff that everyone who has a job at the Salt House is welcome to have it back.
“We’ve saved about 75 per cent of the jobs.
“As for wages, I’ve made everybody aware that unfortunately doesn’t lie with me.
“There will be a bonus in place once the Christmas period ends which I hope will offset some of the worries.”