Passersby on Congress Street may have noticed a new façade erected recently covering the former site of the Grill restaurant.
That property went up in flames along with the adjacent Red Room bar on Jan. 1, 2013, about a year after the businesses shut their doors for the final time. Firefighters quickly put out the flames, but court records show tensions between the owner and tenant of the property continue to smolder.
At issue are tens of thousands of dollars in rent payments, unknown lost profits, insurance money and a restaurant that never came into being, according to an ongoing civil lawsuit in Pima County Superior Court.
In addition to the new facade, the owners of the property, Suk Hoo Kim and Myung Soo Kim, submitted permit applications with the City of Tucson Friday morning to rebuild the structure that housed the Grill, the Kims’ lawyer Peter Collins said.
A few months before the fire, Congress Street Clubs Mafia LLC leased the properties that housed the Grill, Red Room, and the planned site of Voodoo Jack’s Lounge from the Kims, who also own the wig shop Wig-O-Rama next door on the 100 block of East Congress Street.
Claiming the Kims did not use insurance funds to repair “extensive damage” caused by the fire 15 months earlier, Congress Street Clubs Mafia sued the Kims in May 2014.
Congress Street Clubs Mafia continued to make rent payments following the fire, but due to the lack of repairs they were unable to open a restaurant in November 2013 as they had planned, according to the complaint.
Congress Street Clubs Mafia asked the court to direct the Kims to make the repairs, pay compensatory damages of at least $80,000 for rent paid from Jan. 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014, as well as return the rent payments and pay attorneys’ fees.
In response, the Kims filed counterclaims in September 2014 and February 2015 alleging Congress Street Clubs Mafia failed to use insurance funds to make repairs, which put a halt to reconstruction of the damaged property.
The Kims alleged Congress Street did not pay full rent prior to July 2014 and then stopped paying rent altogether. They asked the court to award them $35,000 in unpaid rent, as well as attorneys’ fees and “compensatory and consequential damages.”
They also asked the court to require Congress Street Clubs Mafia to put the insurance money into rebuilding the property.
Congress Street Clubs Mafia filed a response denying many of the Kims’ allegations and claiming the Kims used insurance money for their own benefit and not to rebuild the property.
The two sides are scheduled for a settlement conference in Pima County Superior Court on Aug. 12.
Both Collins and Thomas Parsons, lawyer for Congress Street Clubs Mafia, said they could not comment on the pending litigation.