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Hall on Franklin plans reopening as landlord files eviction lawsuit

Tampa’s first food hall owes rent from the period it was closed due to COVID-19.
The exterior of the Hall on Franklin, in Tampa, Fla. on September 28, 2017. The Hall on Franklin, a restaurant collective, is planning its reopening while facing the threat of eviction from its landlord.
The exterior of the Hall on Franklin, in Tampa, Fla. on September 28, 2017. The Hall on Franklin, a restaurant collective, is planning its reopening while facing the threat of eviction from its landlord. [ MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published May 29, 2020

TAMPA — The Hall on Franklin is planning a June 12 reopening, but its landlord has filed an eviction lawsuit over unpaid rent.

The owner of the property at 1701 N Franklin St., A2 LLC, wrote in the filing that the food hall stopped paying rent in April and hasn’t paid since. The Hall on Franklin — like all restaurants — was forced to close its doors in March because of COVID-19. The restaurant, which has several booths for individual vendors, says it’s opening back up in two weeks, but the lawsuit says owner Jamal Wilson is on the hook for nearly $47,500.

“While we cannot comment on the litigation, we are excited to reopen in June and welcome back the community,” Wilson said in statement.

The attorney for A2, Luis Martinez-Monfort, did not respond to emails requesting comment.

The lawsuit says due to a stipulation in the lease agreement, the food hall ended the lease agreement by missing its rent on April 1 and May 1. The lawsuit refers to the food hall now as a “holdover tenant." Florida’s holdover law allows property owners to double the monthly rent for tenants who continue to operate after a lease has ended, something the lawsuit says A2 is pursuing.

Related: Two weeks into a state-mandated restaurant shutdown, some local restaurants found that to-go orders couldn't pay the bills.

In response to the virus, Hillsborough County has enacted an administrative order that does not allow the Sheriff’s Office to enforce a writ of possession, the final step of an eviction.

The food hall announced its reopening plans on its Facebook page Wednesday.

“This year has thrown us all for a loop, but we’ve got plans in place to continue providing the best possible experience,” the post said

The food hall says it has hired a sanitization director, will use single-use paper menus and QR codes to lessen direct contact and keep capacity at no more than 50 percent. Its staff will be required to wear masks and have their temperatures checked before each shift. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to use face coverings.

The tables and bar seats will be arranged to encourage social distancing.