Andrew Z's Sports Pizzeria, a restaurant at Levis Commons in Perrysburg that is owned by Toledo radio personality Andrew Zepeda, was locked by the landlord Thursday because the tenant owes three months of rent.
It was the second time in four months that Hill Partners has locked out a tenant who was late with rent. Licata Jewelers Inc. closed in June while the store's owner and its landlord sued each other, claiming each party did not live up to the terms of their lease. Litigation is pending.
Mr. Zepeda, the morning host on station WVKS-FM (92.5), said he owes $35,066 in rent. He added that his restaurant was strapped because an employee allegedly stole a large amount of cash four months ago.
Mr. Zepeda said he thought he had worked out a repayment plan with Hill Partners Inc., which manages the main shopping portion of the Levis Commons complex off of State Rt. 25 near the U.S. 23/I-475 interchange.
But then he found the landlord changed the locks, closed his building, and took down his signs Thursday morning.
"I'm sure legally in here it says they can kick me out," said Mr. Zepeda while holding a copy of his lease agreement at an impromptu press conference at the entrance to Levis Commons.
Mall officials issued a statement saying they would have no comment because they anticipate litigation.
The center had sent Mr. Zepeda certified letters this week notifying him of the intent to shut the doors. Mr. Zepeda said he was making a good-faith effort to repay his debt and had paid his September rent. He also has $11,000 for October rent that he intended to pay Friday when it is due.
Beau Harvey, Mr. Zepeda's attorney, said his client on Sept. 21 signed an agreement with Hill Partners to pay $2,500 weekly to cover back rent owed for June, July, and August.
"We don't think he has missed any of the weekly payments," Mr. Harvey said.
Mr. Zepeda said his business was solvent until April when he hired a new manager whom he would not name.
Mr. Zepeda said in June he began noticing bills had gone unpaid and discovered the manager allegedly had embezzled $50,000 to $70,000.
Mr. Zepeda said Perrysburg police are investigating the theft, but a police spokesman was unable to confirm that Thursday.
The radio personality said he intends to reopen his business "somewhere" by 5 p.m. Friday.
Mr. Harvey said he intended to file a motion Friday in Wood County Common Pleas Court seeking an immediate order that would allow Mr. Zepeda to reopen.
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