Buell's owner sues man in dispute over restaurant purchase Court is asked to force him to buy

November 22, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

The owner of Buell's Restaurant in Ellicott City has filed suit against a businessman who allegedly backed out of an agreement to buy the establishment and convert it to a Chinese eatery.

Gertrude Buell, whose family has operated the home-style restaurant along Baltimore National Pike for more than five decades, is asking the court to order the businessman to buy the establishment.

Mrs. Buell also is seeking $250,000 in damages, according to the suit that was filed in Howard Circuit Court on Nov. 10.

The suit says Mrs. Buell had an agreement with Wilson An-Tuen Lee to sell the restaurant, pending the transfer of a county liquor license, and names Mr. Lee and his family owned company, Y.Y. Lee Inc., as defendants.

The county Liquor Board approved the transfer on Oct. 29, contingent on the sale. The license would prohibit Mr. Lee from selling beer and liquor as carry-out items, although the Buells may sell alcohol for take-out as well as with meals.

The suit alleges that since the license transfer has been approved,Mr. Lee and his company are obligated to buy the restaurant.

"The refusal to fulfill the obligations of the agreement . . . has caused the plaintiff significant damages to the property and the on-going business," the suit says.

Buell's -- in business since 1939 -- serves typical roadhouse food, such as hot pork sandwiches, crab cakes and grilled ham steaks.

Mr. Lee planned to call the establishment Uncle Y.Y.'s and to serve Szechuan-style health food.

The restaurant's owners have put signs in the windows saying, "Open 11 a.m., We are Still Buells."

Mrs. Buell could not be reached for comment. Her attorney, Lewis Straughn Nippard of Ellicott City, declined to comment on the case.

Mrs. Buell, now in her 50s, is trying to sell the restaurant for personal and business reasons. Since the death of her husband and partner, Bud, in 1988, it has been harder for her to run the business, Mr. Nippard said in a previous interview.

Mr. Lee referred a reporter to his attorney, Thomas Baker of Baltimore, who also declined to discuss the case.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr.

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