CT restaurateur with big expansion plans faces eviction at 2 locations

0
17

A Connecticut entrepreneur with bold expansion plans for her flagship The Place 2 Be restaurant has hit some choppy waters, facing eviction from two locations —  one in downtown Hartford — for failing to keep up with rent payments, according to court documents.

Restaurateur Gina Luari, who found early success in 2015 with her all-day brunch and drink menu at her first location on Hartford’s Franklin Avenue, is in danger of losing the keys to her Place 2 Be restaurant on Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford and the planned but as yet unopened Bakery by the Place 2 Be in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square.

A second Place 2 Be restaurant in Blue Back Square is not involved in the litigation.

In downtown Hartford, The Place 2 Be was taken to court in late February, three months after the landlord, 5CP Master Tenant LLC, sent an affiliate of Luari’s company, The Statement Group, a notice that she was behind on rent. A move to close down the restaurant — at 5 Constitution Plaza in the ground floor of the Spectra Plaza Apartments — was filed in court two weeks ago, according to court document filed in Superior Court in Hartford.

The lease for 5 Constitution Plaza was signed in 2020.

Gina Luari founded The Statement Group, based in Hartford, to encompass her expanding restaurant locations, including the flagship Place 2 Be of The Place 2 Be. (Courant file photo)

Brad Horrigan/The Hartford Courant

Gina Luari founded The Statement Group, based in Hartford, to encompass her expanding restaurant locations, including the flagship Place 2 Be of The Place 2 Be. (Courant file photo)

The property manager, Hartford-based Lexington Property Management, declined to comment.

The court documents seeking eviction do not specify how much Statement Group owes. But The Courant reported in January the amount was $43,000 as of Nov. 1 at 5 Constitution Plaza, according to court documents.

In West Hartford, the owners of Blue Back Square — Blue Back Square Capital Partners — terminated a lease for The Bakery on Jan. 19 because rent had not been paid. The landlord moved for an eviction in February, according to filings in court.The lease was signed in April of last year with a 10-year term starting in October. An attorney for Blue Back declined comment.

Jeannette Dardenne, a spokeswoman for The Statement Group, said, in a statement to The Courant: “Our business model is strong and our customers are some of the most loyal in the food industry. We look forward to continued success.”

Dardenne acknowledged that, like many small businesses and restaurant owners, The Statement Group “has had to juggle its fair share of landlord issues.”

“In some cases, they are easily resolvable, and we can continue to serve our insta-worthy fare with flair,” Dardenne said. “But in other cases, legal action is required. As always, safety and comfort is paramount to our customer’s experiences, and if we feel, even for a moment that our brand is at risk because of a structural of integral concern, we will wait until matters are officially sorted out.”

The Statement Group downplays the significance of the court filings because they are not out of the realm of industry norms.

At Constitution Plaza, water leaking into the restaurant remains a problem and has been extremely disruptive to business. In Blue Back Square, The Statement Group said it could not comment on specifics of the matter but a resolution is expected in the near future.

Inside the dining room of RAW*, a raw bar and seafood restaurant in Hartford owned by entrepreneur Gina Luari. (Courant File Photo)
Inside the dining room of RAW*, a raw bar and seafood restaurant in Hartford owned by entrepreneur Gina Luari. (Courant File Photo)

The Statement Group noted that it had persevered at Constitution Plaza despite flooding and a fire that closed the downtown location for five months in 2022.

The Place 2 Be at Constitution Plaza, near the corner of Columbus Boulevard and Kinsley Street, qualified for a $150,000 grant from the city’s Hart Lift storefront revitalization program. The program was funded by federal pandemic relief funds.

Additional locations of the Place 2 Be are in Springfield and New Haven. The chain, known for its made-for-Instagram, trendy designs and all-day brunch menu, plans to expand beyond New England to Dallas, and likely, Las Vegas.

Place 2 Be, New Haven (Contributed)

In addition to the Place 2 Be, Luari’s Statement Group has pushed its restaurant expansion in other directions at the same time. Luari has drawn flattering mentions in national business publications such as Forbes.

Last year, Luari opened RAW*, a seafood bar, on Church Street, also selected for a $150,000 Hart Lift grant. She intends to open Charred, a brick-oven pizzeria, on the first floor of the former Pearl Street firehouse, now being converted to apartments. Charred also was chosen for a $150,000 Hart Lift grant and could open later this year or early in 2025.

Luari also plans to open a Mediterranean-themed restaurant  at The Shops at Somerset Square in Glastonbury in the space formerly occupied by Max Amore.

Contact Kenneth R. Gosselin at [email protected].

Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here