WEST JEFFERSON — Still waiting for a decision on a preliminary injunction, the lawsuit between Old Hotel owner Mark Beck and The Hotel Tavern restaurant received new paperwork Thursday, March 5, in the form of a temporary restraining order.
An emergency motion for the order was filed in response to Beck beginning renovations on the building, the start of his plans to transform it into a functioning hotel. This included closing off the second floor and removing the patio.
Beck sent a notice to the owners of The Hotel Tavern Feb. 7, letting them know of his intentions to begin work in the spring. Part of the notice was a request for the Tavern to remove all belongings from the second floor, however when construction began and power to the second floor was still shut off, the Tavern’s computer systems were still there, forcing them to shut down temporarily.
The order, signed by the Hon. Michael D. Duncan of the Superior Court, prevents Beck from doing anything that could adversely affect the Tavern’s ability to operate. It also requires Beck to provide a handicap-accessible ramp, which was only on the patio, and not impede “Clear, clean and safe passage by restaurant patrons.”
The order explicitly said the Court would not address the matter of the patio. Beck said the patio was built more than 30 years ago, and was not in good shape.
“The patio was removed to make room for construction equipment and staging as we are starting the renovation. I have no other place to stage materials or equipment needed as the alleyway is being used for deliveries and outdoor food storage. Both the alleyway and patio are common areas—not part of the restaurant’s disputed lease,” Beck said. He added he did not believe common areas around the Tavern were part of the status quo agreement. “We never agreed that the status quo agreement prevented the building owner from making necessary building repairs.”
When the patio was removed Monday, March 2, Tavern co-owner Andy Guion said he had no comment on the matter. The restaurant re-opened Wednesday, March 4.
The order is effective and in full force for 10 days or until the Court rules on the preliminary injunction. Tavern co-owner Sherman Lyall said the restaurant will continue to operate as normal, and the only issues were when they felt Beck got in the way of that.
Originally scheduled to be released Dec. 23, 2019, Duncan has not issued a ruling on a preliminary injunction that would protect the Tavern during the lawsuit.
The Old Hotel was sold by the Woodie family to Bridgetree Investments Aug. 1 for $800,000. Bridgetree owner Mark Beck said he plans to transform the building back into a historic, functioning hotel, which will take roughly two-and-a-half years of renovations.
The sale led to a complaint from the owners of The Hotel Tavern, Guion & Lyle Enterprises, on Aug. 29, alleging that Bridgetree Investments, and the Old Hotel’s former owners, conducted unfair and deceptive trade practices and breached their contract, among other claims, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.
The complaint led to countersuits from both Bridgetree and the Woodie family. In their Oct. 29 countersuit, the Woodies denied the existence of The Hotel Tavern’s 2018 lease, while also accusing them of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, conversion, trespass and abuse of process. Bridgtree made accusations against Guion & Lyle Enterprises of breach of contract, civil conspiracy, trespass, damage to property, unjust enrichment, abuse of process, libel, slander, permissive waste and fraud, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.
The lawsuit’s first day in Ashe County Superior Court was Dec. 18, 2019, and the case has not returned while Duncan has not ruled on the preliminary injunction.