The Historic Old Hotel

The Historic Old Hotel on the corner of West Main Street and Jefferson Avenue in downtown West Jefferson was sold to Bridgetree Investments in July. Owners of The Hotel Tavern filed a lawsuit Thursday, Aug. 29, alleging that the current and former owners of the hotel breached their contract and conducted unfair and deceptive trade practices.

JEFFERSON — Answers, affirmative defenses and counterclaims were filed by the Woodie Family against Guion & Lyle Enterprises, owners of The Hotel Tavern, in the Ashe County Clerk of Courts Office Tuesday, Oct. 29.

The filing came in response to a complaint filed by The Hotel Tavern owners on Aug. 29 alleging that Jo Ann Woodie, Billie Jo Woodie, Deborah Woodie Ellis, David Ellis, Sharon Woodie and Woodie Investments, the Old Hotel’s former owners, as well as Bridgetree Investments, the hotel’s current owner, conducted unfair and deceptive trade practices and breached their contract, among other claims, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.

Within the answers to the complaint, the Woodie co-defendants deny the existence of an alleged 2018 lease agreement with The Hotel Tavern owners, which Guion & Lyle Enterprises claim in their complaint is the contract that was breached by Bridgetree Investments’ alleged attempt to evict The Hotel Tavern from the building, according to court documents.

In addition, the Woodies bring the following counterclaims against Guion & Lyle Enterprises: breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud, conversion, trespass and abuse of process.

According to the Woodies’ counterclaims, The Hotel Tavern owners conducted renovations on the property without permission from the building’s owners, which was not permitted according to the lease the two parties signed in 2013.

The Woodies also claim that The Hotel Tavern owners started to use areas of the hotel without permission from the owners, citing that the 2013 lease only allowed for use of the restaurant space and an upstairs office space, according to court documents.

The counterclaims additionally include allegations that The Hotel Tavern failed to pay rent on time, saying that from May 2016 to June 2019, The Hotel Tavern owners paid rent on time, by the first of the month, seven times. The Woodies claim that these allegations are in breach of the rental provision of the 2013 lease.

“(Guion & Lyle Enterprises’) payment history deteriorated to the point that it paid more than 20 days late from January 2019 through May 2019,” the court documents claim.

In the initial complaint filed by Guion and Lyle Enterprises, it states that a lease was signed in 2018 for another 10-year period, which also includes a clause stating that the lease may transfer to a new owner if the property were to sell.

Andy Guion, co-owner of The Hotel Tavern, then received a signature from Jo Ann Woodie on an alleged draft document of that 2018 lease while trying to refinance The Hotel Tavern, according to the initial complaint document. Guion then immediately went to the Ashe County Register of Deeds to attempt to record the lease, but was denied as the document was not notarized.

In their answers to the complaint, the Woodies claim that Jo Ann Woodie’s signature on the alleged draft document for the 2018 lease was procured by fraud. They also claim that the 2018 lease was still under negotiation at the time of the Old Hotel being sold, and a final agreement was never made.

Negotiations related to the lease included an increase in rent payments due to The Hotel Tavern’s use of other portions of the property, which were not permitted in the 2013 lease. A final agreement was never made between the two parties before the building was sold to Bridgetree Investments, the Woodies claim in their response to the complaint.

The Woodies also cite in their counterclaims N.C. General Statute § 47-18, which states that leases of land for greater than three years must be registered in the county of the leased land to be enforceable against creditors or subsequent purchasers for value, and claim that Guion & Lyle Enterprises’ allegations of the Woodies’ breach of contract is barred under this statute as the document was never recorded in the register of deeds.

Andy Guion, speaking on behalf of Guion & Lyle Enterprises, said that they are currently working on answers to the Woodies’ counterclaims, and offered no further comment at this time. Ashe Post & Times will continue to provide updates on this story as they are made available.

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