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."
State Rep. Lenar Whitney — one of a handful of Republican candidates vying for Louisiana’s 6th Congressional district — has been described by Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman as one of the most “frightening or fact-averse candidate[s]” he’s ever met following her reaction to an interview last week.
Mid-August hearing dates have been set for dueling lawsuits over Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools.
An investigation into the last-minute passage of a pension hike for the state police superintendent continues, despite Col. Mike Edmonson's decision not to accept the increase.
Safety Jairus Byrd practiced with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday for the first time since his signing in March.
Sentencing has been delayed for a businessman who provided key testimony in the corruption case that resulted in the conviction of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.
The spectre of priest sex abuse has returned to haunt the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette following the recent release of an investigative report by Minnesota Public Radio, revealing new allegations of another child predator hiding behind the clerical collar.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Times Square impersonator crackdown; Israel shells Gaza school; Russia hit with sanctions and more national and international news for Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
The sponsor of a Louisiana law that requires doctors that perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges doesn't believe the provision is in jeopardy after a federal appeals court struck down a similar Mississippi law.
Louisiana's state school board has jumped into a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal that accuses the governor of illegally meddling in education policy through his efforts to block Common Core education standards.
Here's how one nationally recognized conservative political pundit reacted upon hearing the news Monday that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was leaning toward an endorsement of Louisiana’s lone Democrat senator.
With the qualifying deadline for Lafayette Parish School Board elections quickly approaching, a series of candidate forums have been announced by the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council.
The investigation and potential prosecution of the man charged in the recent hit-and-run death of a Youngsville cyclist won’t happen overnight, according to local law enforcement officials.
Louisiana's state school board is holding a special meeting to consider whether to sue Gov. Bobby Jindal in an ongoing dispute over the Common Core education standards.
A bipartisan congressional deal to help improve veterans' health care access includes approval for new veterans clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles.
It wouldn’t be a first, however, as the Chamber has thrown money behind Landrieu before.
The Democratic incumbent, seeking her fourth term in office, is a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance exports of U.S. companies.
The world is a politically tense place these days with hot spots ranging from the Middle East to Ukraine. In Louisiana and Mississippi, where the political chessboard tends to be a lot less threatening and at times entertaining, this election season is living up to expectations.
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.