The store front Bella Figura abandoned has generated a lot of interest in the past few months, according to Tex Plumley, who owns the Centre Park shopping center with Dr. Andrew Harwood. Potential tenants included Carmelo Ristorante, an Italian eatery on the corner of Decatur and Toulouse streets in New Orleans. But Carmelo could not move as quickly as the Todaros, says Plumley, who was anxious to find a replacement for Ainsworth's Bella Figura. Ainsworth's departure from the spot violated the lease agreement, prompting Plumley and his partner to consider legal action. Plumley says Ainsworth has thus far been able to avoid a lawsuit to uphold the lease because the Todaros are moving in. The space has been vacant since Bella Figura moved out, despite a stipulation in the lease that prevented it from going dark.
Additionally, Bella Figura still has more than two years on the lease. The rent is being paid, Plumley says, and as part of the negotiations, Ainsworth will guarantee it through its duration. "Jack stays involved from the standpoint that he still has 28 months on his lease."
Ainsworth says he's had every intention of fulfilling the terms of his lease but acknowledges overlooking the stipulation preventing him from leaving the space vacant. "My first words out of my mouth were, 'Tex, I'm going to honor the terms of my lease,' [but] I wasn't aware of the dark clause," the restaurateur says.
The loss of Bella Figura was exacerbated by Ainsworth's initial plans to expand into a space Centre Park's owners freed up specifically for him. Ainsworth had long wanted to expand his Italian eatery, Plumley says, and in December verbally committed to take over more space when a tenant, Kids Krop Shop, wanted out of its lease. Plumley let the salon owner out of her lease two years early without paying any penalties. "I was definitely surprised he was leaving," says Plumley, who didn't find out until early January ' when he sent the lease agreement for the additional space to Ainsworth ' that Bella Figura would be heading to the City Club.
Earlier this year, Ainsworth told The Independent Weekly he had been in talks with City Club officials since last summer ("Moody family out, Bella Figura in," Jan. 10). The restaurateur now explains that negotiations with the City Club had fallen apart in December when he agreed to take the additional space on Kaliste Saloom Road. "I turned that [initial City Club] deal down and was going to stay where I was," Ainsworth says. "Robert Daigle [River Ranch's developer and a co-owner of City Club] came back with a different structure of a deal that basically was just too good to turn down." Ainsworth says he notified Plumley within a couple of weeks of accepting Daigle's offer.
The touchy situation between the center's owners and Ainsworth was massaged a bit recently, when a local hair stylist committed to opening a full-service salon, Juuj Coiffure, in the old Kids Krop Shop location. The new hair salon, which caters to both children and adults, will soon join existing Centre Park tenants CC's Coffeehouse, Eros, Harrison Paint, Europe Spa, Planet Beach tanning salon, Initials, Avenues to Travel (Ainsworth's wife's travel agency) and TCBY, (Plumley's wife's business that has just been completely renovated to a more contemporary design).
The Todaros have worked out a deal to purchase the equipment Bella Figura left behind and aren't planning any major renovation of the space, according to Gene Jr. "The place is beautiful already," he says, "so the changes will be minor."
The Todaros have been operating their retail wine shop in Lafayette since 1980, when they started in La Promenade mall. Marcello's Wine Market and Deli, which will offer a large selection of wines (along with regular wine tastings), liquor, and imported and micro-brewed beer, should be open within three months. The deli portion will bring back several popular menu items that the family once offered at its Time Plaza Italian restaurant and wine bar, Marcello's, which Gene Jr. says closed in the late 1980s. The deli will also have a variety of cheeses, salamis, and other cured meats, as well as cold and hot sandwiches.
Gene Jr. lives in Baton Rouge, and his father lives in Lafayette. They sold their smaller Baton Rouge wine shop after Hurricane Katrina to focus their efforts in Lafayette. "We're concentrating on Lafayette," the younger Todaro says, "and we're looking for more locations in north Louisiana and central Louisiana."
The Lafayette superintendent insists the budget is illegal and vows to fight on.
"I am not a scientist," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said numerous times, a response that other members of his party have parroted.
Republicans are running strong races against endangered Democratic incumbents in states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alaska. Republicans are also looking to replace retiring Democrats in Iowa and West Virginia with a GOP lawmaker.
Republican congressman Vance McAllister is trying to make up to Louisiana voters for getting too close to a married former employee.
You may not like all of “it,” but U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, unlike many of her colleagues, isn't sitting around twiddling her thumbs in Congress.
Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro says he "can't wait" to play against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The heat keeps rising for Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal as a new slate of corruption allegations surfaced this week.
If opposing defenses sell out to stop the Packers' passing game, they risk being gashed by powerful running back Eddie Lacy, a New Orleans-area native.
At the horn the officiating crew trotted to the tunnel and left security personnel to clean up after them.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
Sign "ninjas" cleaning up clutter; NYC doctor positive for Ebola; Ferguson grand jury decision nears; and more national and international news for Friday, October 24, 2014.
We can safely assume incumbent Chief K.P. Gibson isn’t too worried about this challenger.
Nationally, Republicans must gain six seats to win Senate control. The most competitive races, many in states where Obama lost in 2012, remain too close to call.
The Baton Rouge Republican has repeatedly battled a perception within his own party that he perhaps wasn't the best choice to carry the GOP banner.
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.