Controversial businessman closes cafes

BY AMY MILNE
Last updated 05:00 24/02/2010

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The Invercargill businessman who made international headlines a year ago after refusing to serve two Israeli women has closed his inner-city cafes and put them into liquidation.

Mustafa Tekinkaya told Southland-based Israeli woman Natalie Bennie and her sister Tamara Shefa to leave his Esk St cafe last February because Israelis were not welcome until Israel stopped killing innocent women and babies in the Gaza Strip. A year on from the incident, the Turkish Muslim's two cafes are shut and neighbouring retailers said they had not been open since February 13.

According to the Companies Office, the Tekinkayas filed for liquidation last Friday and appointed liquidator Tim Ward, of BDO Spicers in Invercargill.

Mr Ward yesterday confirmed his appointment and said he was still in the process of completing his report but it appeared problems had occurred from having both businesses running under one company.

Mevlana Kebabs Cafe in Tay St had operated more successfully than Cafe Down Esk, he said.

This was unlikely to be because of damage to Cafe Down Esk's reputation, stemming from the public exposure last February, he said.

Mr Tekinkaya's actions last year caused widespread condemnation as well as Ms Bennie laying a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

Mr Tekinkaya was subsequently forced to apologise to Ms Bennie in person after a month of negotiations, mediated by the commission.

Ms Bennie said she felt the situation as water under the bridge but was not surprised the businesses had shut. "I had heard they were suffering, to the extent that he ended up changing the name of the Esk St cafe (from Mevlana Cafe to Cafe Down Esk), which was quite noticeable," she said. "But what goes around comes around."

Mr Tekinkaya declined to comment yesterday.

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