Realtor: Court backed up decision to evict downtown restaurant

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A realtor says a court backed up his decision to evict a downtown restaurant from its location earlier this month.

Tom Heitman says the lease for The Greeks at 124 Princess Street included a clause that said he could enter without notice if they were in default.

The owners of The Greeks arrived at their restaurant on Feb. 1 to find the locks changed and another restaurant’s equipment inside. That day Heitman said the business was more than $10,000 behind in rent. Amid the confusion, even law enforcement was not sure what should happen. In the end, the new business, Gino’s Pizza, moved its equipment out, and Heitman filed paperwork in Small Claims Court, even though he says the lease did not require him to do so.

The Greeks’ owners said the real issue was that the landlord had not made repairs they had requested.

Heitman, who owns Wilmington Commercial and Residential Real Estate, which manages the property, tells WWAY that this week the court found The Greeks were in default and awarded a maximum judgement of $10,000. The Clerk of Court’s office confirmed the judgement, but a clerk said she could not release the actual monetary amount awarded.

“I want to make it clear I was under an obligation and duty upon default to become tenant’s agent, without termination and/or eviction, to enter, secure and re-let the premises to create standing, per section 19 (C) of the Standard 592 T Commercial Lease form,” Heitman told WWAY in an e-mail. “I understand how the general public may have a misunderstanding of commercial lease law. However, it is scary that some real estate professional(s) made comments that show they have no understanding of commercial lease law and/or knowledge about our standard contracts to protect their clients rights.”

Heitman says while residential evictions require an often lengthy eviction process, the same is not the case for commercial property.

By Monday of this week The Greeks had closed up shop and told WWAY they were packing up, moving out and looking for a new location.

Heitman says Gino’s has started moving in to the space again and should be open within the next 30 days.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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