Warfield's Loses Fight To Avoid Eviction From Savage Mill

Restaurantwas Cited For Unclean Conditions

May 05, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

Warfield's restaurant and catering business was evicted from the Historic Savage Mill shopping mall last week after losing a court battleover the way the restaurant had been managed.

"We have the right to go in and repossess the property, and we exercised that right. We went in and moved their stuff out," said Bernard A. Cook, attorney for the mill.

Warfield's former space should be occupied by a new restaurant within two weeks, said Stuart Title, sales and leasing director for themill's developer, A. J. Properties.

Because the leasing agreementis not yet firmed up, mill management would not name the new restaurant. A catering service is serving food during mill hours until then.

After a four-day trial, a county Circuit Court jury decided in favor of the mill April 26 -- a year to the day after the restaurant was officially evicted.

The mill sued for the right to evict the restaurant, and later was counter-sued for $300,000 in damages by H & B Enterprises, which owns the restaurant.

"It wasn't simply about money, because they had paid their monthly rent. They had operated in such a fashion that they were hurting the mill and hurting its tenants," Cook said.

The mall management, Savage Mill Limited Partnership, main

tained that the 4-year-old restaurant had defaulted on its 10-year lease, citing "unreasonably" unclean conditions, including dirty trays and greasy counter tops, and unsafe conditions, such as a smoky oven.

The restaurant failed a state health inspection in January 1990 but passed a follow-up inspection in April 1990.

The original health inspection yielded four pages of violations, including observations that cooked food was being stored at temperatures too low to prevent bacterial growth and that ice cream cones were being stored near mouse poison.

Douglas L. Burgess, attorney for H & B, said through a spokesman that he had no comment about the outcome of the case. Arnold Snyder, the chief executive officer of H & B, could not be reached for comment.

When filing the counter-suit against the mill, Burgess said he had hired an independent research firm to survey patrons, all of whom indicated that Warfield's was a "high-quality, excellent-caliber restaurant."

The counterclaim also charged that Savage Mill management trespassed by entering the restaurant to take photographs without the permission of Warfield's management.

Cook said the issue came up in the trial, but, he argued, mill management went in to take pictures of the restaurant April 27, 1990, the day after Warfield's eviction.

After the lawsuits were filed, the restaurant continued to operate under an informal agreement pending outcomeof the trial, Cook


Now that the eviction issue is settled, Cook said, he will file motions to compel H & B Enterprises to payattorneys' fees and court costs, which amount to more than $10,000.

Of the incoming restaurant, Title said, "It will be nothing like what was there. What we want to do is get an entire new presentation for the restaurant; it's got a negative image at this point.

"We hope to have the jazz Sunday brunches going again," he added, explaining that musical events that started in 1987 were discontinued when H &B took over in June 1988.

"Its going to be under new ownership, and we're going to be doing quite a marketing campaign to bring back the customers that used to eat here," Title said.

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