If a Detour American Grille opens in The Commons next week, the city and the leaseholder likely will end up in court, according to the city attorney.
The Columbus Redevelopment Commission tonight will consider whether to declare Greenhouse Restaurant LLC in breach of its lease with the city, after the Scotty’s Burger Joint in The Commons closed Dec. 31. The city then would deliver a letter giving Greenhouse 15 days to resolve the problem. City Attorney Kelly Benjamin said under her reading of the lease, the only appropriate cure would be to reopen as a Scotty’s franchise because the lease specifically called for a Scotty’s restaurant.
However, the owners of Greenhouse Restaurant said Tuesday that they intend to reopen under a rebranded Detour American Grille franchise on Monday, no matter what the city decides. Company officials said they have been advised by their attorney that if they do not reopen they will be in violation of their lease.
Mayor Kristen Brown and Benjamin explained the city’s position to The Commons Board on Wednesday.
Benjamin said that it is up to city officials to decide whether they believe there has been a breach of the contract, but once that was determined, the State Board of Accounts said the statutes directed the city to one of two options: seeking the highest bidder for the space, or following a disposal procedure that would lead the city to seek bids that meet city-set criteria.
Brown said the city wanted control over who goes into the space, so the city intends to go the route that allows the city to seek bid proposals.
Paige Harden, a member of The Commons Board, asked Benjamin if the city could stop Greenhouse from reopening the restaurant as a Detour American Grille.
“With the 15 days cure, I do believe that they can open, if they want,” Benjamin said. “But what is going to happen is, after those 15 days, that is the point that they are at termination. At that point we are going to have to get a court order to remove them from the premises. ... That will take however long it takes to get a court hearing.”
Benjamin said the lease allows the city to remove the tenant, but it does not specifically say the tenant can be removed without a court order, so the city would seek one.
Brown and Benjamin said as of Wednesday afternoon that the company had yet to communicate to the city its intent to reopen on Monday.