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Angelo’s in Lakewood Closed. Owners Claim Landlord Locked Them Out.

lockoutThe key business in Dallas is certainly booming. A few weeks ago, Mi Piaci’s North Dallas landlord locked the 23-year old restaurant out of the building. On August 9, Angelo’s Italian Grill, the popular 21-year old restaurant in Lakewood was also locked out. Teresa “Gubbshoe” Gubbins reports the closure was sudden. 

She writes

As recently as three days ago, the restaurant was still conducting its “free bottle of wine” giveaways to random customers and encouraging them to come in claim them.

An angry customer, who’d booked an event with the restaurant, wondered he wasn’t contacted. Gubbshoe runs the answer co-owner Bernadette Fisher wrote on Angelo’s Facebook page:

“Unbeknownst to me, my landlord terminated my lease and locked me out,” Fisher responded on Facebook. “I could not call you because all of your information was in the computer at the restaurant and said they would arrest me if I tried to go in. I cannot tell you what a shock this was. I have been told they have already rented it out. I am so sorry, if I would have known before 8 am Friday morning, I would have called you. Bernadette.”

“Believe me, it wasn’t my decision to close, my landlord made it for me. Nobody is sadder than us, trust me. We would have loved nothing more than to have one last big hoorah before closing.”

Hmm, “landlord terminated my lease?” I’m not buying that. Call me naïve but I can’t imagine the owners didn’t see some kind of train headed their way. I contacted two veterans of the restaurant business to get their take. They both asked to remain nameless. Jump to hear their opinions.

Relationships between landlords and restaurant owners can be dangerous business.
Relationships between landlords and restaurant owners can be dangerous business.

Owner Number One:

“Sometimes it’s a result of a standoff in lease negotiations between landlord and tenant. People are funny, they can ignore the most obvious things when they believe they are right (ie. “the landlord isn’t going to lease this place out from under us, I can turn his rent proposal down”). Most landlord’s buildings are valued on the cash flow, mortgages may be involved, and not having a lease brings down the value. If tenant and landlord had a contentious relationship in the past, the landlord might be worried about being gutted, and left tenant-less, and if there is no lease in place, may have every right to seek a new tenant. If Angelo’s turned down an offer from the landlord’s and didn’t try to negotiate, I don’t see what else the landlord could do. I don’t buy clueless in this tale.”

Owner Number Two:

“Total bullshit. The landlord has to send many notices before locking someone out to avoid liability. If they even show a property with a good lease they are subject to a lawsuit. Depends on how the lease was written. The hint here is they would have liked to have had “one last hurrah” instead of “renewing our lease.”Probably months behind or lease was up with no options to renew.”

For those of you who like to follow me down this rabbit hole, I’ve found a link to a commercial real estate law that addresses landlords and lockouts. Let’s go. Work can wait.