Cottage Hospitality, Inc., d/b/a Mary’s Restaurant at Falls Cottage in the historic West End district is suing the City of Greenville and the nonprofit Carolina Foothills Garden Club over the plumbing and sub-structural issues that forced the restaurant to close earlier this year and have allegedly led to a mold problem.
According to the lawsuit filed in the 13th Circuit by Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey LLC on July 9, the restaurant subleases the building from the garden club, which leases it from the city which owns it. Since early 2019, the restaurant has been reporting the problems to both the city and the garden club, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that, after a series of meetings in which the parties agreed to move forward with renovations, contractors hired by the city found mold.
In response to the discovery, the garden club on June 23 terminated the restaurant’s lease for defaulting on their obligation to maintain the property and suspended Mary’s from operating the restaurant on the site.
Cottage Hospitality’s primary complaint is that the lease termination and suspension is damaging both their finances and their reputation. The owners are asking the court to declare that the city and the garden club are responsible for causing and repairing the structural damages and remediating the mold. They’re also asking the court to declare that the garden club cannot terminate the restaurant’s lease.
City spokesperson Beth Brotherton said they cannot comment on pending litigation but the garden club’s lawyer, Cary Hall of Wyche Law Firm, said Cottage Hospitality’s sublease clearly obligates them to maintain the site and that several plumbing leaks caused by the tenant’s own equipment have caused damages estimated in the $100,000 range.
“It’s ridiculous,” Hall said. “We’re trying to get in there and have [them] fix these problems … if [they] can’t, the garden club will have to do it.”
Cottage Hospitality’s lawyer, Ryan Pasquini of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, told the Journal that at this point, he’s limited on what he can say.
“I urge anybody who’s interested in that situation to read that complaint,” he said. “We plan on reaching out to customers affected by the closing. It’s an unfortunate situation.”
In the meantime, Mary’s remains closed.
About Falls Cottage:
W.E Touchstone built the two-story stucco-over-brick cottage sometime between 1894 and 1896, according to the plaque out front, which says the garden club acquired and renovated the place in 1972 and named it Falls Cottage. It is near the intersection of Falls Park Drive and South Main Street.