NEW DETAILS: Restaurant eviction lawsuit at The Greene is escalating

The Greene is ratcheting up the pressure on the owners of a restaurant that the retail center is seeking to evict.

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On Monday, attorneys for The Greene asked a judge to award the retail center $383,973 from the most recent owners of Choe’s Asian Gourmet restaurant at 4394 Juniper Way.

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In its motion for default judgment filed in Greene County Common Pleas Court, The Greene says it is owed $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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Choe’s Asian Gourmet, located near the eastern edge of the retail center, hasn’t served customers for several weeks and has a sign taped to the door that says simply, “Temporarily Closed.”

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The most recent manager of Choe’s Asian Gourmet told this news outlet last week that 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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“Greene Town Center worked diligently to find a new tenant for the space and have secured a new tenant that will begin paying rent in June 2018,” Steve Willshaw, general manager of The Greene, said in an affidavit attached to Monday’s court filing in Greene County Common Pleas Court.

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Willshaw had told this news outlet last week that The Greene was attempting to return the restaurant to its former owners, who would reopen the eatery under a new name after renovating the space. And a week ago, an application to transfer the liquor licenses of the restaurant to a new ownership team that would do business as "Ace Asian Cafe" was filed with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

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A 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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“It’s an unusual set of circumstances,” Steve Willshaw, general manager of The Greene, told this news outlet last week. “We took the restaurant back so the former owners could take it back over. They will be doing some remodeling and changing the name. It’s a very, very good thing.”

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Greene County Common Pleas Judge Michael Buckwalter ruled in December that the restaurant’s operators had violated the lease agreement and awarded The Greene 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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However, Dayton attorney Eugene Robinson has entered the case representing the restaurant’s operators, and two weeks ago, on Jan. 18, Robinson asked the judge for additional time to respond to the lawsuit on behalf of his clients. No decision on that request has been made. Robinson last week declined to comment, saying he would not try the case in the media.

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