The feud over the future of the downtown pub Bierhaus is now headed for the courtroom. The owner of the Castro Street beer garden filed a lawsuit against his landlords this week, alleging they are violating his lease by planning to oust his business next month.
In the suit, attorneys representing Bierhaus owner Mike Finley allege the owners of the 383 Castro St. location did not act in good faith because they refused to negotiate a new lease with him.
Khoe Tran and his family, who own the building, are planning to redevelop the site into a four-story office building with a new restaurant space on the ground floor. Those office plans were submitted to the city earlier this year, but it is expected to take years for the proposal to wind through the city's overburdened review process.
Given how long it will take, Finley believes Bierhaus should be allowed to remain open for a couple more years before the office development goes forward. His attorneys point to a clause in his lease guaranteeing that Bierhaus is supposed to get first right of refusal on signing a new lease "in the event (the landlord) builds a new building." They believe this obligates the Tran family to negotiate a new short-term lease with Bierhaus at fair market pricing.
The lawsuit references a series of emails sent over the summer between Finley and his landlords, in which he pointed out his first right of refusal privileges in the lease. The Tran family reportedly declined his request to negotiate an extension.
The quarrel is more complicated than a debate over the lease language. Finley is also alleging the Trans are planning to essentially steal his business concept by reopening a similar beer garden at the same site. The suit alleges the Tran family are attempting to seize Finley's liquor license for a new restaurant that would occupy the space after Bierhaus vacates.
The Tran family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Bierhaus lawsuit seeks $250,000 in damages including an alleged loss of business caused by the landlords' actions. Finley is also asking for a court order that would prohibit the Trans from leasing the space to any business other than Bierhaus.
The case has not been scheduled yet for a court hearing. Bierhaus is currently expected to close down by Sept. 30.