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West County restaurant closes after landlord sues for unpaid rent

According to the lawsuit, Hawatmeh was to pay $16,897.50 per month in rent and a monthly $1,877.50 common area maintenance fee, but hasn't made a payment since June
Credit: MARK GILLILAND PHOTOGRAPHY
Amer Hawatmeh is owner of Copia Restaurant, which is being sued by its landlord for unpaid rent and possession.

ST. LOUIS — Copia Restaurant in West County closed its doors after its landlord filed a lawsuit over unpaid rent.

The restaurant, located in the West County Center mall and owned by Amer Hawatmeh, owes more than $206,000 in rent and various fees and is facing $465,000 in mechanics' liens from 11 contractors, according to a lawsuit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court in November by the mall's owner.

Hawatmeh didn't respond to a request for comment, but one of his attorneys, Thomas DeWoskin of Danna McKitrick, confirmed that the restaurant is in the process of closing and that it's been "losing money for a while, which is why the landlord is suing for back rent."

According to the lawsuit, Hawatmeh was to pay $16,897.50 per month in rent and a monthly $1,877.50 common area maintenance fee, but hasn't made a payment since early June, leaving a balance owed of $206,426.

Sugarfire Smoke House, the St. Louis-based chain of fast-casual barbecue restaurants, in early December said it would open its 16th location later this year in Dallas. That's not Dallas County, Missouri, or Dallas City, Illinois, but Dallas, Texas - the state that considers barbecue a lifestyle.
Olive + Oak restaurant in Webster Groves will move down the street once co-founders Mark Hinkle and Greg Ortyl have completed a revamp of the historic Tate Motor Co. building at 216 W. Lockwood Ave. The restaurant currently is at 102 W. Lockwood Ave.

The mall is owned by West County Mall CMBS LLC, a subsidiary of Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc. It's seeking immediate possession of the premises, as well as what it's owed in unpaid rent, and various other fees, including recovery of legal costs.

Click here to read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal.

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