After serving their patrons for 12 years at their location in front of Plaza Royale in Gainesville, a popular Florida grill shut down unexpectedly on the second Sunday in July. The cause of the closing appears to be a commercial real estate lease dispute. The grill's landlord claims the restaurant was short on its rent on two months prior to the closing. The restaurant, on the other hand, claims that they had deducted legitimate expenses from their rent payments.
The property owner managing member received the Sunday call around noon from an individual who wanted to know if the restaurant was moving. Not being aware of any such plans, he went over to see what was going on and found a crew putting the restaurant's equipment into a truck. One month prior to the unexpected move, on June 11, the landlord had filed a suit against the restaurant for not making rent payments as stipulated in their commercial lease contract.
The restaurant's side of the story was that the short rent payments reflected two years' worth of incurred expenses, part of which included the cost of a new air conditioning system. The property owner's managing member said that the short rent payment made in May was the first he had heard about the restaurant's expenses. It was further noted that the lease stated that the restaurant was to notify the landlord if there were any problems and that the property owner would then fix it.
A call made by a local Florida newspaper to the restaurant's franchise headquarters remained unreturned. Meanwhile, the property owner's managing member has said that he has already been shown interest in the vacated restaurant's location by both restaurateurs and commercial real estate brokers. Commercial real estate lease disputes may often produce confusing issues and result in unexpected situations such as the 'Sunday surprise' vacating action undertaken by the Gainesville restaurant. To achieve the best possible outcome in a dispute, it is in the best interests of landlords or tenants to take advantage of the knowledge and expertise of those who are well-versed in matters of commercial real estate law.
Source: gainesville.com, "Stonewood Grill closes amid rent dispute," Anthony Clark, July 16, 2013