Zoom on Main Street served early exit in lawsuit settlement
November 4, 2016
The owner of Zoom on Main Street will be forced to move the restaurant out of its current location at the end of May and agreed to pay more than $65,000 in a settlement related to a lawsuit it filed against its landlord, a prominent Park City property owner.
Sundance Partners, LTD, owner of the popular restaurant, signed the settlement agreement after suing Ken Abdalla, who controls the property Zoom is located on through a company called Argentum Sky, LLC. The lawsuit, filed in June, alleged that Abdalla was spreading lies about Zoom in an attempt to force it out of its lease, which was not set to expire until 2020.
The lawsuit, filed in 3rd District Court at Silver Summit, was dismissed with prejudice last month, after both sides approved the settlement agreement. The agreement stipulates that Zoom's lease will terminate early, on May 31 next year, and that Sundance Partners, LTD owed the defendants $65,288.
Malibu Companies, LLC, which operates Argentum Sky, LLC's properties, and the Union Square Owners Association, of which Abdalla is president and chairman, were co-defendants in the suit.
Sundance Partners, LTD claimed in the lawsuit that Abdalla and the co-defendants spread gossip throughout town that the restaurant, housed in a former Union Pacific Railroad train depot, was closing due to an expiring lease. It also alleged that they spread rumors that Zoom was infested with bugs and mold.
Joe Wrona, a Park City attorney who represented Abdalla in the lawsuit, argued that Sundance Partners, LTD filed the lawsuit to avoid trouble for Zoom failing to properly maintain its kitchen area, in violation of its lease. Wrona filed court documents that stated Zoom was warned in February about "caustic liquids" dripping through the floors of the kitchen, into an employee area below of the Main & Sky hotel, which Abdalla also owns.
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Mold and flies were also found in a crawlspace in the kitchen, court documents stated. Wrona claimed Zoom tried to get rid of the evidence of the mold but was caught by the city and ordered to shut down. Jim Magleby, a Salt Lake City attorney representing Sundance Partners, LTD denied that, saying any hazardous material found was not caused by the restaurant.
Zoom was closed for several weeks during the summer.
Wrona said Sundance Partners, LTD ultimately signed the settlement agreement because its claims were not holding up in court. He added that the settlement was a "home run" for his Abdalla, who owns several properties in Park City's historic district.
"This is a situation where Zoom was obviously responsible for the problems that had occurred, and they tried to get cute and manufacture a sensational lawsuit against Ken Abdalla and make sensational accusations," he said. "And we crushed them. … It doesn't get any better than this."
Magleby did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The settlement agreement makes the future of the popular restaurant, which opened in 1995, unclear. A phone call to the restaurant went unreturned.
Wrona said the defendants would not have agreed to the settlement if Sundance Partners, LTD had refused to terminate the lease in May. Otherwise, the defendants would likely have filed litigation against Sundance Partners, LTD for "all kinds of things," he said.
"We had them red-handed, so in terms of what we were willing to do to end the lawsuit, we said, 'Look, you have to get out in May,'" he said. "We're letting them continue to operate through this winter season, then they have to get out in May to give Ken Abdalla time to reposition the building and determine whether he's going to get a new tenant or try to utilize the building himself."
Wrona added that, despite the litigation, he and Abdalla will wish the restaurant well when the lease ends.
"Zoom is a fine restaurant," he said. "They did ultimately fix all of the problems in their kitchen area. I'd be very comfortable eating dinner there today."