Pago Pago International Airport will soon have a new restaurant
It’s been three months since the closing of the only restaurant at the Tafuna airport, and Director of Port Administration Taimalelagi Dr Claire Tuia Poumele said they hope to award the bid for the new restaurant “very soon”.
The Port director told Samoa News last week at the Governor’s Office there were three local companies who had submitted a bid since the Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued and they have selected a company which has experience in eateries. It wasn’t a very easy task, she noted.
Taimalelagi said the company they selected is not just any company, rather, they were looking for a company who has considerable experience in the restaurant business. Last December the Airport Board evicted the Island Hut from the airport due to unpaid rent to the tune of $20,000 plus.
Tevita Prescott, owner and manager of the Island Hut — the only restaurant at the airport — called the termination of his lease “heartless” saying his business was singled out from all the other businesses that owe lease payments to the government, and it was done a week before Christmas. Prescott told Samoa News he had 15 employees who were out of jobs right before Christmas as he sought meetings with the Port Director and the Airport Board and met with Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga on the matter — all to no avail — his business was not given a second chance.
Prescott said that the Port Director was adamant the Airport Board would not overturn their decision of terminating Island Hut’s lease. He confirmed the lease for his restaurant was terminated on December 12, 2013 because he owed $23,000. “My question is — why single out my business when there are other businesses that owe way more money than our restaurant?” he asked.
The Port Director in a letter of response early in January pointed out that on May 29, 2013 a notice to pay or vacate was sent to Island Hut and in April 2013 she met with the restaurant’s management. Taimalelagi pointed out that although a letter was sent to Island Hut giving them 30 days to remit full payment of $25,387, the Port afforded them an additional five months to “fulfill your obligations as stipulated in the lease agreement”.
“Island Hut has been delinquent in lease payments over a period of five years, with one payment of $1,000 in 2009 and zero payments in 2010-2011,” she said.
In an initial interview with Prescott, he confirmed that his arrears amounted to some $27,000 but he had paid $5,000 prior to being evicted by Port Administration.