The site operator of Mavericks beach bar and grill on Lantau has said she will seek to ensure the restaurant remains open next month and that staff keep their jobs, following news of its imminent closure. She hit back at claims that a rent hike forced the current operators of the beachfront favourite to move out.

Treasure Island Group Managing Director Adrienne Ng, who rents the Pui O site to Mavericks, said the restaurant had a catering deal to provide for schools and corporate groups using their outdoor camping, team-building and water sports facilities during weekdays. From Friday to Sunday, the restaurant then opened to the public.

Under the agreement, Ng said Mavericks – which opened in 2014 – enjoyed rent below the market rate for their first three years. But the restaurant declined to continue the weekday catering contract in 2018: “Mavericks wanted to outsource our core weekly catering needs from our school camps to a third party which is not acceptable in terms of our original contract and service agreement, the quality and delivery assurance of meals which would be difficult to trust to say the least,” she told HKFP.

Photo: Mavericks / HKFP.

Ng – who is a Mavericks shareholder – said that Treasure Island was in a three-month discussion over the terms with the restaurant owners. She was saddened to see the restaurant’s recent postings on social media about the closure, and said the 80 per cent rent hike reflected the development of the business.

Head Chef Neil Tomes told HKFP on Thursday that their bid to cater for weekday clients was rejected. He said their costs had risen in an effort to source food more ethically, and that they had offered to continue the deal as part of a non-profit arrangement.

Job losses

On Thursday, Tomes said that four full-time staff and several part-timers would lose their jobs. However, on Friday, Ng pledged to keep the restaurant open: “I will do my best to find new management to take over smoothly. I will do everything in my power to ensure that no jobs are lost and the restaurant stays open,” she said in a Facebook post.

The closure prompted an outpouring on social media from customers: “What a huge loss for our wonderful community. An icon for Pui O beach that will be missed,” one user on the Mavericks’ Facebook page wrote.

“Very sorry indeed to hear this. Wherever you open up next we will be sure to visit,” wrote another.

A closing event featuring UK DJ Goldie will be held on Saturday, May 12. Mavericks did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publishing.

Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.