The owners of a now defunct restaurant, Fillin Station Grille, which principal parties say was forced to close because its neighbor, Southern Thunder Harley Davidson, began selling food in direct competition with and in direct violation of a reciprocal easement agreement have filed suit in Circuit Court alleging breach of contract.
Fill It Up, LLC, Fillin Station Grille, LLC, and Steven P. Beene have filed a complaint in the Circuit Court of DeSoto County alleging breach of contract and failure to act in good faith with that agreement.
Fill It Up , LLC, filed for bankruptcy protection before the Northern District of Mississippi on April 27, 2016.
Beene, its principal owner at the time of the filing, said the restaurant closed its door on Oct. 15.
According to Beene, the reason for the restaurant's demise, in part, was due to the fact that Southern Thunder Harley Davidson began allowing food vendor trucks to set up on the property adjoining Fillin Station Grille, in direct violation of a signed agreement between the two parties.
"We sent them a cease and stop letter to them over a year ago," said Beene. They were over there cooking and giving it (food) away or selling it for donations. It's pretty cut and dry."
According to the lawsuit, "these violations included but are not limited to selling/providing prepared food to customers, selling/Providing beverages to customers, selling/providing beer and other alcoholic beverages to customers, producing and promoting cook-outs and other special events during which food and drinks are sold/provided to customers, as well as utilizing food trucks and other food vendors from which food and drinks are sold/provided to customers."
The lawsuit also alleges that the defendant, Southern Thunder Harley Davidson, "has breached terms of the agreement and drastically impacted the profits of Fillin Station Grill, as well as Fill It Up, LLC, and the income derived from those entities."
"Defendant actions have caused losses of at least $100,000 per year since the defendant began violating the agreement."
Beene, the plaintiff in this case also alleges that due to the violations of the restrictive covenants, and its competition with Fillin Station Grille, that Fillin Station Grille did not generate sufficient income and as result it defaulted on its lease payments, resulting in the foreclosure of the real property owned by Fill It Up, LLC, loss of equity in the real estate, as well as Steven P. Beene's loss in equity in Fill It Up, LLC.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff Beene points to the agreement in which "the parties intended that the restaurant and Harley Davidson would be compatible and complement one another.
"Specifically, the restaurant would attract potential customers to the Harley-Davidson, and the Harley-Davidson's customers would likewise go to the restaurant. The entire purpose of the agreement is to prevent the respective lot owners and businesses located thereon from competing against one another."
Fillin Station Grille opened in June of 2010. Its owners were Beene, and former partners Preston Lamm and Jim LoSapio. It was operated by River City Management Group at that time.
Beene said he and wife Lisa regret the restaurant had to be closed and said they will miss friends and associates in DeSoto County.
The couple came to DeSoto County in 1998. Beene is the former owner of Great River Beverage.
"We would like to thank everybody for their support over the years," Beene said. "Not only for Fillin Station Grille but Great River Beverage."
Attempts were made to speak with company representatives at Southern Thunder Harley-Davidson.
The lawsuit represents one side of a legal argument.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.