DAVIS ISLANDS — Has Tate Brothers Pizza, the popular Davis Islands hangout, been tossed — like a pepperoni pie — out of the retail center it has anchored for 17 years?
The answer depends on whom you're asking.
"Imagine our surprise when we got a notice in December to vacate in 30 days. We thought, is this a miserable joke?" said lawyer Jeanne Tate, sister-in-law of Tom and David Tate who manage the restaurant.
But Michael Myers, management representative for the property, disagrees that the Tates were unaware that the owners, Davis Island Shopping Center LLC, were going to change the tenant mix.
The family-owned pizzeria has operated on a month-to-month oral lease for five years, Myers said. Plus, neighboring business Java & Cream moved out Jan. 9 when its month-to-month lease was terminated.
"I am not the bad guy here," Myers said. "Retail centers get makeovers all the time, and that's what we are doing."
Jeanne Tate does not dispute the month-to-month lease, but she has a more personal perspective.
"It's not just business. They yanked our lease, and our family and about 16 employees are hugely affected," she said.
On Jan. 21, Tate Brothers Pizza filed to dismiss the complaint to evict, saying it was improperly served.
"We believe we are legally entitled to stay because they served the wrong person in the wrong form, so the clock hasn't started ticking," Jeanne Tate said.
"There has been a complete lack of cooperation,'' she continued, noting they were told to vacate a month before the two biggest days of the year, Gasparilla and the Super Bowl.
"We would love the opportunity to discuss remaining in our current location," she added.
But don't despair, pizza lovers.
Says Tate: "We are exploring alternate locations on Davis Islands.''
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