Tarpon Pointe Bar landlord countersues

R. Scott Tibbetts claims the restaurant owes him nearly $500,000

cschelle@bradenton.comJune 26, 2013 

BRADENTON -- R. Scott Tibbetts is countersuing Tarpon Pointe Bar and Grill, claiming that the restaurant owes him nearly a half-million dollars.

In his filing responding to restaurant owner Bruce Bottorff's business interference/harassment complaint, Tibbetts claims Bottorff is in default of his commercial lease agreement and continues to trespass on Tibbetts' neighboring properties.

The agreements on parking spaces were oral, according to Tibbett's court filing, and shouldn't be enforced.

As a result, Tibbetts countersued Bottorff for eviction, according to court documents.

Tibbetts claimed the restaurant failed to pay its pro-rata share of real estate taxes in 2011 and 2012, totaling $61,764.70, according to court documents.

"We are in disagreement for what actual pro-rata share is for the pro-rata share property tax," Bottorff told the Herald. For example, if 10 percent of the property is being used and leased, a payment equal to 60 percent of the property shouldn't be paid.

Property taxes are paid and current on the various parcels owned by Tibbetts and his companies, including Tarpon Pointe, according to the Tax Collector's Office.

The lease, filed as evidence in court, shows that Bottorff should be paying Tibbetts a base rent of $123,627 during 2013, in addition to utilities, royalties and revenue payments if certain numbers are met.

Bottorff told the Herald that in all, he pays about $20,000 a month to Tibbetts and brings in $250,000 a month.

Tibbetts claims the restaurant owes $419,650.97 as a share of its annual net revenue, as part of the lease agreement, according to court documents.

"I guess he's assuming our revenue because he hasn't reviewed our books," Bottorff said.

The restaurant also failed to provide audited financial statements and didn't allow the landlord to inspect and audit Bottorff's books, according to the complaint.

"If he can produce the request and if he can produce the denial of his re

quest, more power to him," Bottorff said.

A visit to the restaurant's property Monday showed boats and hitches strung along what Bottorff said was meant to be parking for the restaurant, along with tow-away zone signs at a section of the parking lot. Bottorff wants the judge to rule all that has to go, according to court documents filed June 17 in Circuit Court.

Bottorff's other requests for the injunction include for Tibbetts to stop:

• Attempting to take over the business and terminate the lease

• Closing off and blocking parking spaces

• Calling tow trucks to tow customer's cars

• Refusing boats to dock

• Contacting Bottorff's business associates and other entities to stop doing business with Bottorff

• Removing the restaurant's signs.

Bottorff also wants to bar Tibbetts from visiting the restaurant unannounced and requires Tibbetts to furnish a 24-hour notice, according to the injunction request, because he would visit Tarpon Pointe and act "hostile" toward Tarpon Pointe's employees and customers, and made "hostile physical contact" with at least one restaurant employee.

Tibbetts told the Herald last week that Bottorff's claims are false. The battle between the two sides extends into another issue about required plumbing work to be installed by Tibbetts so the restaurant would have sufficient restrooms.

The city has scheduled an August hearing in front of the code review board in which Tibbetts must either prove he has installed a device on the water line that the city of Bradenton has been maintaining, despite an agreement two years ago designed to relieve the city of its liability.

Tibbetts is also alleging the restaurant is violating state liquor laws by selling alcohol with an improper license. Each of Tibbetts' claims, including his notice of eviction, was dated Feb. 18, according to court documents.

In Bottorff's lawsuit against Tibbetts, he said he paid his landlords more than $1.5 million in 2011 for parking, kitchen, pavilion and bathroom work, but later discovered that Tibbetts and his company Manatee Landings Marina were not licensed contractors. Bottorff filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation. DBPR agreed with Bottorff's findings and ordered Tibbetts on March 1 to "cease and desist" his contractor work -- even though it was already completed. The city approved all of the various permits in 2010 and 2011.

No court date has been set for a hearing on the lawsuits.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095.

Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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