Rumors can be laid to rest after Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey ruled in favor of Blue Pan Grille owners John and Jack Garlock in their case against First Presbyterian Church of Oxford. Lackey further ruled that the Garlocks should be allowed to return back to the property and be given a reasonable amount of time to make any needed repairs and improvements. The Garlocks will be counter suing the church for revenue they claim they lost during the time that they’ve been unable to operate their business.
An article by Alyssa Schnugg in last Friday’s Oxford Eagle provides additional details. A synopsis follows:
“In January, Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey ruled the First Presbyterian Church had no grounds to evict the owners of the Blue Pan Grille.
“First Presbyterian Church of Oxford owns a lot adjacent to the church that faces South 11th Street. In November 2005, the church leased 4,000 square feet of the property to Maher Alqasas who opened The Oxford Steak House. In July 2007, Alqasas sub-leased the property to John and Jack Garlock and their company Petra LLC. The sublease was negotiated by Dr. Don Newcomb on behalf of the church.
“John Garlock and his father, Jack, opened Petra in July 2007 and then later closed that restaurant and opened the Blue Pan Grille. The Garlocks subleased a portion of the property to Kenny Draper who opened The Red House, which occupies one-third of the original 4,000 square feet. In the spring of 2009, the church began to have reservations about the Garlocks’ lease after they claim the Garlocks made several late rent payments.
“In September 2009, the Garlocks proposed to sublease the Blue Pan Grille space to David Moore, owner of The Blind Pig, which lost its lease on another location on the Square. Newcomb told the two parties the church would have to approve the sublease. The Blind Pig submitted designs for alterations and improvements to the space and hired a contractor. A portion of an interior wall was demolished. When the church realized demolition work had begun without its permission, a local contractor was hired to inspect the property and concluded that up to $80,000 in repairs were needed.
“The church notified the Garlocks they were in material breach of contract and instructed them not to return to the property and alleged the Garlocks failed to maintain the premises, failed to obtain written permission to sublease the property and failed to obtain the approval of plans to alter the church’s property.
“The matter went before Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey in October. In January, Lackey granted the Garlocks’ motion for summary judgment, saying there was no breach of lease by the Garlocks. According to Lackey’s ruling, the church failed to prove damage done by the Garlocks. Lackey also said the breach was caused by The Blind Pig who ‘misinterpreted the authority of Dr. Don Newcomb to speak on behalf of (the church).'”