Rising property taxes push New West restaurant to the brink

Soaring land values and rising property taxes may force a popular local eatery to close its doors.

Leona Green and her son Matthew co-own Greens and Beans Deli, which may have to close when its lease at 143 East Columbia St. expires in September 2021. Even now, the small business is struggling to pay increased rent resulting from rising property taxes.

“It’s pretty sad,” Matthew said. “Our family has had a deli in New West for 30 years.”

The Sapperton building is also home to Holland Shopping Centre.

“In June, the tax notices came out – the taxes went from $23,000 to $47,000 for the property and the building,” Leona said. “It’s in our leases that we pay the taxes as part of the triple net.”

While Holland Shopping Centre pays more because it has a bigger space, Leona said Greens and Beans’ rent rose by $800 a month because of the tax hike.

“When we first started here it was $1,200 a month. Now we are at $3,800 a month,” Leona said. “It’s hurting a lot of people.”

(On Sept. 9, the city's land use and planning commitee considered a proposal that would allow a pharmacy to move into the space at 143 East Columbia St.)

In the past 30 years, Leona has operated three sandwich shops in New Westminster, including 13 years at the current location. The Greens are still exploring all their options but with the high cost of renting or buying commercial properties in New West and the hefty price tag that comes with outfitting a new space to the new standards required for restaurants, it’s looking more and more like Greens and Beans will close.

“We have been considering trying to find something in Sapperton to move to, but even where we sit we are paying $3,800. Down closer to the hospital, the average rent is $5,000 a month. That’s why everybody goes out of business. We are established and $3,800 can be a struggle,” Leona said. “The whole landscape of business is going to change in the next little while – nobody is going to be able to afford it except for chains. It’s sad.”

Matthew said it could cost $100,000 or more to set up a restaurant from scratch.

“It seems like all that’s going to be left is big businesses and franchises. There will be no mom and pop shops. They’ll be gone, because who can afford it?” he said. “There will be no culture. There will be no colour. There will be no spice. I am not even talking about just for food – all types of businesses.”

Instead of investing in a new restaurant space, Matthew may look for small warehouse where he can operate a kitchen that services Greens and Beans’ two coffee trucks.

“We make the food in the kitchen. Then the truck gets loaded up and it does a route. It does a bunch of warehouses and factories,” he said. “It’s basically like a deli on wheels.”

In preparation for the likely closure of Greens and Beans Deli, Leona has been letting community members know they’re going to have to make do without donations from the business in its final year in operation. Starting next September, Leona, who was New Westminster’s 2004 Citizen of the Year, will have to make a big push to save for her retirement.

Greens and Beans Deli, whose accolades include being named New Westminster’s Small Business of the Year in 2012, contributes to many local charities and organizations, with employees donating tips to various charities. In addition to providing donations to many local fundraisers, the restaurant also donates soup daily to a local shelter and supplies the Hyacks football team with salads before its home games.

© New West Record