La Bastide, a corporation which owns the tony Tapenade Restaurant, has sued the owner of a La Jolla shopping center on which La Jolla Music Society plans to build a $40 million performing arts center. The suit, filed in Superior Court yesterday (August 15) could possibly delay or block the project, although it could be settled.
The owners of Tapenade, Jean-Michel and Sylvie Diot, say that in December of 2012, they renewed their lease on the restaurant to 2018 with Walter Urbach, property manager for the Louis A. Crescenzo Trust, which recently sold the shopping center to clear the way for the music venue. The trustee of the Crescenzo Trust, Lyle Egan, is the defendant in the suit. In January of 2013, the owners of Tapenade made extensive improvements to the restaurant's interior, according to the suit.
"The La Jolla Music Society exercised its power to force La Bastide...to vacate the property despite the fact that La Bastide had exercised its right to extend its lease to 2018," according to the suit, which was filed by the law firm of Aguirre & Severson. The restaurant owners say that Urbach assured them that any potential purchaser would permit Tapenade to remain on the site. The La Jolla Music Society assured the restaurant it would remain — then, later, reneged on the promise, according to the suit.
After word got out of the music society's new location, the restaurant began losing $10,000 a month, according to the suit. The order to vacate the property in January of next year will deprive the restaurant of $440,000 in lost profits, according to the suit. The restaurant will also incur significant expenses to relocate, says the suit, which charges the trust with breach of lease agreement, breach of good faith covenant, concealment and common law fraud.