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Lucky Dill in downtown Tampa evicted for not paying rent

TAMPA — Luck seems to have run out for the Lucky Dill in downtown Tampa.

The New York-style deli, known for its behemoth sandwiches, was evicted from its corner at N Tampa Street and Ashley Drive.

Soup simmered on the stove and bread baked early Thursday when sheriff's deputies told head chef Eric Cornwell, 32, to get out.

"I asked, 'Can I have 10 minutes to gather some things?' " Cornwell said. "They said no."

The Lucky Dill's lease of Park Tower's first floor extended through February 2014, said Mary Ayo, the building's senior property manager.

"They hadn't paid their August or September rent," Ayo said, declining to give the rent amount.

A default judgment for possession was entered Sept. 4.

Inside, maintenance workers changed locks, stripped window signs and blanketed them with paper. Deputies posted the eviction notice on the door.

Cornwell had to call customers and cancel the day's orders. As employees arrived, they got the news that their place of work was closed. Ten people work at the restaurant and are like family, Cornwell said.

Owners Mary and Christian Zavala could not be reached for comment, and another owner, Mary Zavala's father, Paul deVietien, did not return a call. The owners' attorney, Kenneth Mather, also did not return a call Thursday afternoon.

Court records show they were sued last year after falling behind in rent payments and expenses the month after they bought the deli in June 2007.

Even if owners were to re-establish the restaurant, Cornwell says, its reputation is damaged by the abrupt closing. Choosing to kick them out on Sept. 11 was an even greater insult, he said, because of the deli's New York theme and tributes.

Lucky Dill in downtown Tampa evicted for not paying rent 09/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 2:22pm]

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