Mathias Shopping Centers Inc., led by Sam Mathias of Springdale, has filed a second suit in Washington County Circuit Court against Neon Restaurants LLC of Fort Smith.
The suit was filed Nov. 6 by attorney James Crouch of Springdale, and it is similar to a suit filed in March and dismissed without prejudice Nov. 2 by Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin. The suit targets Neon Restaurants, whose agent is W.B. Hitchcock of Fort Smith, and individuals Jason Rider and Travis Walling, both of Fort Smith.
Rider and Walling operate Lucy’s Diner restaurants in Arkansas, including one that was at 3120 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Fayetteville. The complaint said that Neon, with Rider and Walling acting at guarantors, leased the 3,400-SF building from Mathias on May 13, 2013; the restaurant closed earlier this year.
The lease called for $5,000 monthly rent for the first year with $250 monthly increases for each year thereafter until the end of September 2020. In the original lawsuit, Mathias said the defendants owed nearly $84,000 in back rent and fees. In the second complaint, Mathias alleges Neon, Rider and Walling owe more than $143,000 in back rent, tax and insurance payments and late fees. Mathias Shopping Centers said, as landlord, it has repossessed the property but not as a lease surrender so the defendants continue to owe rent until the lease’s termination.
Neon, Rider and Walling, through attorney Stephen Smith of Fort Smith, denied the allegations of the first lawsuit. They said Mathias first breached the lease by failing to maintain the exterior of the building. In Neon’s response, Smith said the restaurant spent more than $100,000 to prevent “waste, disrepair and avoid business disruptions.”