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BBQ Joint Sues Lucky Cheng’s Owner for $22M Over Termites and Repairs

By Serena Solomon | February 14, 2014 6:34am | Updated on February 14, 2014 11:12am
 The former Lucky Cheng's location at 24 First Ave. Pride and Joy BBQ is now attempting to open in the space.
The former Lucky Cheng's location at 24 First Ave. Pride and Joy BBQ is now attempting to open in the space.
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Flickr/Robyn Lee

EAST VILLAGE — A barbecue joint slated to open in the former Lucky Cheng's space in the East Village is suing its landlord for $22 million because of termite infestations and other structural problems that required extensive repairs, according to court documents.

Pride and Joy BBQ is suing Hayne Suthon, who owns both Lucky Cheng's and the drag cabaret's former building at 24 First Ave., accusing Suthon of lying about the condition of the First Avenue building and then trying to evict the restaurant for demanding repairs, according to a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court Feb. 7.

The alleged structural issues in the building have not only delayed Pride and Joy BBQ's opening by months — it was scheduled to open last summer — but they have also cost the restaurant hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and lost income, according to legal documents.

Suthon, who has lived at 24 First Ave. with her family since 1989, denied the allegations in the lawsuit.

Pride and Joy BBQ's East Village opening had already hit a separate series of road blocks, with celebrity chef Myron Mixon leaving the venture in October, suing the restaurant on his way out for trademark infringement and breach of contract. That case is still ongoing, according to court records.

Before signing the lease for two floors at 24 First Ave. in November 2012, Pride and Joy BBQ was not permitted by Suthon "to remove finishes to inspect the structure of the building," according to the recently filed lawsuit. Suthon moved Lucky Cheng's from First Avenue to 240 W. 52nd St. in 2012.

Pride and Joy BBQ, which has an operating location in Miami, signed the lease anyway and has so far invested $3.1 million in the space, including renovations, repairs and $600,000 in rent, according to court documents.

When fitting out the space, Pride and Joy BBQ discovered "almost too many structural deficiencies to count, and the extent of the problem was vast," according to legal documents.

The lawsuit lists issues such as termite infestation, deteriorating structural frames and a leaking roof and walls.

Pride and Joy BBQ recently stopped paying its rent while attempting to broker a deal on the repair costs with Suthon, which prompted Suthon to threaten to evict the restaurant, according to documents.

Now, Pride and Joy BBQ is seeking a court order to stop the eviction and is also seeking at least $22 million in damages, according to the lawsuit.

Suthon told DNAinfo New York Friday that she never prevented Pride and Joy BBQ from inspecting the building before signing the lease. She also said she has every intention of paying for fixes to the termite and structural problems and is currently getting bids from contractors.

"Anybody who knows me knows I am not sneaky, I am always trying to be honest," said Suthon, adding that she is still "hoping that we can come to some resolution" with Pride and Joy BBQ.

The lawyer representing Pride and Joy BBQ did not return a call for comment and the owners of Pride and Joy BBQ did not return a call and email for comment.

The lawsuit also claims that Suthon has yet to transfer Lucky Cheng's liquor license , which had a 4 a.m. closing time, even though Pride and Joy BBQ paid Suthon half a million for the transfer.

Suthon said she has done everything possible to sign over the liquor license, including voicing her support for the transfer at a December 2012 Community Board 3 meeting. 

The State Liquor Authority lists Pride and Joy BBQ's liquor license as pending. The restaurant's owners are listed as Pablo Cardenas, Chris Mayer, Paul Thielecke and Michael Saladino.