A new Greek restaurant has opened three months late due to the coronavirus crisis and a “massive planning delay”.

Tasty Greek Souvlaki, opened at 20 Market Place yesterday (Monday, May 18) for takeaway only.

Restaurants are not currently allowed to have eat-in customers to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

The new Greek restaurant won a booze licence in January and was initially due to open in February but there was “a massive delay” with the planning application, which was submitted in December 2019.

A Reading Borough Council (RBC) spokesman said the planning application sent to the council was initially incomplete, causing the delays, and officers "worked hard to enable the restaurant to get permission as soon as possible".

By the time the application was approved, at the end of March, Tasty Greek Souvlaki was unable to open because of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

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By then, Tasty Greek Souvlaki was unable to open because of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

Anxhelo Mertiri, co-director of the restaurant, spoke to the Chronicle before the opening.

He said: “To be honest, it hasn’t been easy at all. We have had no business rates waived and we have received no business grant. We still had to pay our rent and our subcontractors.

“Now we are on our last hope and we are ready to open for takeaways and collection orders only.

“We are ensuring we comply with all Covid-19 legislations in act alongside with the normal heath and food safety standards. We want to be sure that public safety and our own safety comes before anything else."

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Mr Mertiri added: “We are looking forward to the vaccine for coronavirus to come out so the population can be safe again and free to go back to normal life.  We can’t wait to see people walking again in town centre and seeing all shops full again.”

A council spokesman said: "The guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government states that businesses must be occupied to qualify for relief and specifically had to be trading as at 11th March to qualify for a grant payment.

"Therefore, Greek Souvlaki was unable to access this and was also excluded from the discretionary scheme.

"However, the business has been awarded retail relief effective from May  18, when trading commenced.

"They still have a charge from when the lease was taken on until the point of trading, but the remainder of the financial year has been reduced to nil and they will receive a revised bill shortly.”