A local branch of a national burger chain may no longer be in business, but has been named in a civil suit alleging that the company has not paid taxes nor rent for several months.
The complaint was filed in Athens Common Pleas on July 8 by Continental 112 Fund LLC. The business operates as the landlord for the location and is based out of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
The lawsuit states that Ruby Tuesday entered into a ground lease at 951 E. State St. on June 26, 2001. The lease term was for 15 years with three automatic renewals of five years. The first renewal was used Aug. 2, 2016, and the lease now extends through Jan. 31, 2022, Continental claims in its complaint. Annual rent was allegedly set at $70,500, or about $5,875 a month.
According to the lease, Ruby Tuesday is responsible for paying certain 2019 taxes. The suit alleges that the business has yet to pay these taxes as of March 10, 2020, when the bill amounted to about $29,350.
About a month later on April 3, 2020, Ruby Tuesday informed Continental no rent would be paid for at least 90 days. Continental responded on April 7, telling the tenant that not only was April rent due, but 2019 taxes were also due. Ruby Tuesday was given 10 days to pay thee amount or be in default of the lease.
Ruby Tuesday maintained to Continental that “it was excused from payment obligations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Continental argued in its initial complaint that Ruby Tuesday is not obligated by the lease to operate a business at that location other than the first year of the lease, and that the business is “obligated” to pay rent “regardless of whether it operates any business in the Leased Premises.”
On May 21, Ruby Tuesday informed Continental of its intent to vacate the premises through an “abandonment letter.” Six days later, the vacancy was confirmed in person by Continental, the lawsuit alleges. However, the premises were not left in good shape, the lawsuit further alleges.
“(Ruby Tuesday) left the leased premises in an unsanitary condition, by allowing rotting food and garbage to accumulate, and failing to mow the property,” the lawsuit states. “The unsanitary condition was so severe that the city of Athens threatened (Continental) with citations if the unsanitary condition was not remedied.”
The work amounted to about $600 for the landlord company.
On June 1, Continental informed Ruby Tuesday of the non-acceptance of the abandonment letter. As of July 2, the lawsuit alleges, Ruby Tuesday owes about $53,450 in rent, taxes and the additional 4 percent contract interest, as well as clean-up costs for the property.
Continental is seeking that full amount in addition to a declaration from a judge to be able to terminate Ruby Tuesday’s usage of the building, and relet the premises. However, the company asked that if the building is able to be relet, that Ruby Tuesday pay “thee differential of any rent collected from the new tenant and what would have originally been collected but not for (Ruby Tuesday’s) breach of the lease.”
Ruby Tuesday has not issued a counter claim or response in this case.