By JACK WEATHERLY
Sweetie Pie’s is looking for another place to operate its soul-food restaurant in Jackson.
The St. Louis-based business that was built on the success of its reality series on the Oprah Winfrey Network found itself dealing with the unpleasant reality of an eviction on Saturday.
Capital Tower LLC of Beverly Hills, Calif., owner of the Plaza Building in downtown Jackson, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court on Nov. 15 calling for payment of roughly $100,000 in back and future rent and other costs.
The restaurant opened in August, only to be closed within a few days because of noncompliance with city code, specifically the presence of a large smoker parked in front of the building at 120 N. Congress St.
In a few days, the restaurant reopened. The smoker had been moved and was never in service.
The restaurant plans to move to East South Street, an old commercial sector south of downtown, according to WLBT-TV.
Norman said in a WLBT report that there were plumbing and heating problems at the restaurant and thus he was not paying the rent.
Capital Tower has invested millions of dollars in the building in the past few years. Rabin Michael, managing member of Capital Tower, said in an earlier article that “we would want nothing more than to have throngs of people and more vitality in downtown.”
The suite rented by Sweetie Pie’s had been vacant since 2015, when La Finestra, an Italian cuisine restaurant, closed.
Norman did not respond to a voicemail left on Monday.
The complaint filed by Capital Tower states that the lease signed May 22, 2018 was breached as of Oct. 1, 2018. By Nov. 15, 2019, the date the complaint was filed, the rent owed was “in excess of $41,463.95.” Furthermore, the defendants were occupying a suite that was not part of the deal and were “unlawfully squatting” in that part of the building.
Future rent under the lease, which runs though Aug. 31, 2021, is valued at $58,507.05, according to the complaint.
The complaint also states that the restaurant was improperly disposing of grease and cooking oil, creating a health and safety hazard rather than properly using a designated container outside the building.
As of Tuesday, neither Norman nor David N. Sissom, president of AIR Trends International Inc., a Florida corporation that, according to the complaint, was “not qualified to do business in Mississippi,” had responded in court.
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