Evicted restaurant lashes out against The Greene

8:00 a.m. Thursday, March 8, 2018 News

The restaurant that The Greene evicted a few months ago is not going away quietly. Now it’s up to a judge whether the restaurant’s efforts are too little and — more importantly — too late.

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An attorney representing the most recent owners of Choe’s Asian Gourmet filed a vigorous challenge earlier this week to The Greene Town Center’s claim that the owners owe The Greene $383,973, and that the lawsuit should be declared finished.

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Dayton attorney Eugene Robinson says The Greene is way off on its calculations, and in fact changed the locks and refused entry to the restaurant owners. That action blocked the owners’ access to several thousand dollars of their personal property, including $2,000 in cash and thousands more in inventory and equipment, Robinson argued.

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Robinson is asking Greene County Common Pleas Judge Michael Buckwalter to deny The Greene’s request for a “summary judgment” that would end the lawsuit immediately in The Greene’s favor. Complicating the attorney’s efforts, however, are missed deadlines early in the lawsuit in which the restaurant’s owners did not initially respond to the legal action against them. 

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Buckwalter ruled in December that the owners of Choe’s Asian Gourmet restaurant had violated their lease agreement with The Greene and awarded the retail center full access to the property. The action was taken after the restaurant’s operators failed to respond in a timely manner to the lawsuit, according to court documents.

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The judge has not yet issued his ruling whether he will essentially reopen portions of the case, or declare it over, with a judgment in favor of The Greene.

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The $383,973 that The Greene calculates it is owed by the owners of Choe’s Asian Gourmet includes $68,600 in past-due rent and late fees, $56,500 to cover costs of preparing the property to re-lease, and $257,500 in “accelerated rent difference” — basically, the difference of the rent that had been due from the most recent owners through the lease term scheduled to end in September 2020 and the new tenant’s lease. Another $1,300 was tacked on for repairs and cleaning.

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A new restaurant to be called Ace Asian Cafe is already in the works in the space at 4394 Juniper Way on the east side of The Greene.

The original lawsuit was filed in Nov. 21 in Greene County Common Pleas Court claimed that the limited liability corporation that was operating Choe’s Asian Gourmet owed more than $49,000 in rent and utilities that had accumulated since July. A “notice to vacate” was delivered to the restaurant eight days earlier, notifying the restaurant operators that eviction proceedings could be filed unless the arrears were paid within three days.

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The most recent manager of Choe’s Asian Gourmet told this news outlet earlier this year that business had been slow late last year in part because foot traffic was down in the restaurant’s section of The Greene. She said she attempted to re-negotiate the terms of her lease but instead was ordered to vacate. She said some of the restaurant’s problems stemmed from a disgruntled former employee.

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