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Hofbräuhaus asks court to set aside default judgment

Margie Manning

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An attorney for Bavarian Partners, the company that operates Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg, has asked a Pinellas County circuit court judge to set aside a Nov. 1 default.

The attorney, Joel Aresty, said in a court filing that paperwork notifying Bavarian Partners about the lawsuit was not properly served. He also said the company has since paid the rent the landlord was demanding when it filed suit.

WG St. Pete LLC, which owns the downtown St. Petersburg property where Hofbräuhaus is located, filed a lawsuit in October to evict the restaurant, saying it had not paid rent since Aug. 1. WG St. Pete also said Bavarian Partners defaulted on its lease by allowing a lien to be filed on the property.

On Nov. 1, a court clerk entered a default against Bavarian and a co-defendant, Big Boy Franchise Management. The default said the defendants failed to respond to the lawsuit.

But in a Nov. 18 court filing, Aresty said his client was never served with the paperwork notifying it about the suit, and that his client’s failure to answer was the result of “excusable neglect.”

David Crawford, the registered agent for Bavarian Partners, never had an office at the Michigan address where the paperwork was served and accepted by a security guard at the site, according to Aresty’s court filing.

As soon as Bavarian heard the landlord was proceeding with an eviction, the company hired Aresty, the court filing said.

Aresty also said Bavarian Partners has since paid $37,500 in rent. Big Boy Franchise Management, a co-defendant that signed a guarantee for the lease, has paid an additional $25,000, Aresty said.

Crawford is CEO of Big Boy, according to the WG St. Pete lawsuit, and a veteran of Outback Steakhouse and Checker’s Drive-In Restaurants, both in Tampa. The landlord told Crawford it would accept the rent going forward, Aresty’s court filing said.

“Defendant requests the improper default be set aside and the case proceed on its merits,” the court filing said.

The judge has not yet ruled on the motion, according to Pinellas County court filings as of Friday morning.

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