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Fresh start for restaurateur who paid other people's bills for seven years

PUBLISHED: 11:55 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:27 11 April 2019

Patricia Rodrigues owner of the Mondragone Italian restaurant in Brandon with electricity bills. Picture: Simon Parkin

Patricia Rodrigues owner of the Mondragone Italian restaurant in Brandon with electricity bills. Picture: Simon Parkin

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A restaurateur who unwittingly paid two other people's electricity bills for seven years is moving to a new building and changing the name of her business.

Patricia Rodrigues owner of the Mondragone Italian restaurant in Brandon that is moving and changing its name to Il Salvatore. Picture: Simon ParkinPatricia Rodrigues owner of the Mondragone Italian restaurant in Brandon that is moving and changing its name to Il Salvatore. Picture: Simon Parkin

Patricia Rodrigues, owner of Mondragone Ristorante e pizzeria in Brandon, is relocating to the former premises of Ashgar Indian restaurant on nearby Crown Street, and is now called Il Salvatore, meaning “the saviour”.

Ms Rodrigues, 29, claims she only discovered that her electricity meter was also recording power use in two other properties when her bills soared to more than £1,000 a month.

Ms Rodrigues said: “Luckily I have managed to find another place and the person who is selling is being really patient and waiting.

“I got the keys two weeks ago and we are now refurbishing.

Patricia Rodrigues owner of the Mondragone Italian restaurant in Brandon with electricity bills. Picture: Simon ParkinPatricia Rodrigues owner of the Mondragone Italian restaurant in Brandon with electricity bills. Picture: Simon Parkin

“We are going to have the same menu, we have just got a different landlord. We are starting afresh.”

The restaurant’s former home on Market Hill is part of a complex that includes the Brandon Lodge Apartment Hotel and is owned by Nolan Guthrie, who did not respond to requests for a comment.

She said: “When we opened it didn’t enter my mind that we would be paying for someone else’s electric but then we started seeing that our bills were getting really high. They went from £150 a month to more like £1,300.

“I couldn’t understand it as we didn’t have any new equipment or anything.”

In a letter to Ms Rodrigues last May, Mr Guthrie stated that power bills were part of the terms agreed when she opened the restaurant, and a lease specifying terms was not signed.

A visit from an electrician confirmed that Ms Rodrigues was paying for two extra businesses, and the installation of a sub-meter showed she may have overpaid by £42,000 over the past seven years.

Ms Rodrigues said: “I feel so, so happy to get away from what I was dealing with. Every day was a problem but now this is the way that it should be.”

One new feature that comes with the Crown Street building is the garden and bar, which Ms Rodrigues said will be fully utilised.

She said: “We couldn’t have a bar before because the restaurant was too small. Now people can just come in for a drink.”

Il Salvatore is due to open in the next four weeks.

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