[image-1]The anonymous call on Sept. 19 from an alleged former employee of The Gentry Bar & Room came to the City Paper‘s office roughly an hour after we published that the restaurant had closed. The upset caller complained that The Gentry’s owner and Southern Charm cast member John David Madison owed hundreds in back rent.
Those claims are now being disputed in a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. The owner of the building, 276 King St., LLC, claims Madison owes $163,233 in unpaid rent.
The suit follows an agreement between the two parties signed off on by Charleston County Magistrate Judge Jennifer B. McCoy on Aug. 18, 2017 wherein Madison agreed to hand deliver $144,844.52 in past due rent by Aug. 25, 2017.
[pdf-3]In a statement regarding the eviction agreement, Madison responded last week in an email with:
“It is no secret that doing business on King Street has become difficult for the tenants due to astronomical rent and tight terms. On the flipside, it is a great time to own property on King Street.
We worked, in good faith, to resolve the property, lease, and rent issues with the landlord over the past six months. The money to settle the consent order was in the attorney’s escrow account, which is where it remained until just yesterday.
For us, the renewal terms forced us to seek a new home for Gentry Bar & Room. We are taking the next two weeks to care for employees, settle with our vendors, and handle the private parties. After that, we are dedicating ourselves to finding a new home for Gentry Bar & Room.
Chef Marvin Woods remains on board, and asks for you all to look at www.gentrybar.com for updates. We thank the Charleston community for your continued support.”
Now 276 King St. has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court. According to the court complaint, after Madison failed to pay on time, 276 King St. renegotiated the terms of the lease “to reduce the amount of Madison’s leasehold to just the first floor of the building.” The landlord sent Madison the new lease to review, but Madison never responded nor, says the plaintiff, did he pay any past due rent of portion of September rent.
According to the suit, “for the next few weeks the landlord withheld evicting Madison based on his claim that he needed additional time to close his deal with investors” in light of delays caused by Tropical Storm Irma.
The suit goes on to say that “By September 15, 2017, however, Irma had passed, the weather was beautiful,” but Madison still had not signed or responded to the proposed lease, or paid any past due rent. Therefore, on Monday, Sept. 18 he was asked to vacate the property.
Writing on behalf of Jenel Management Corporation, which manages 276 King St., LLC, the company’s local business partner Mark Regalbuto says,
“The order of the eviction speaks for itself. By no fault of the landlord, the tenant became seriously delinquent on his rent. The tenant agreed to the order in an attempt to forestall eviction and raise past due rents. Based on promises made by the tenant, the ownership gave the tenant additional time to raise the funds needed. That timeline was not met. It is important to note that the landlord had not yet attempted to renegotiate the lease to this point. It was only after the landlord had the absolute right to evict, based on countless promises that were never kept, did the landlord desire to renegotiate the lease due to its lack of faith in the tenant. After two weeks of negotiation and nonpayment of rent for September, and having received none of the past due rent and no firm commitment as to if and when it might be delivered, landlord acted on its right to evict.”
Reached briefly this morning, Madison indicated he wasn’t aware of any lawsuit. We’re awaiting further comment.
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