TAMPA — The former owner of a Quizno’s sandwich shop in downtown Tampa is suing the city after being evicted from the ground floor of the city-owned building that houses the Tampa Police Department.
The city rented the space at the corner of Franklin Street and Kennedy Boulevard to David and Lauren Cullen of Treasure Island, owners of a Quizno’s franchise.
The five-year lease started in March of 2011. This past October, the city revoked that lease and changed the locks after the store sat empty for several months.
City officials have struck a new deal with Holy Hog Barbecue to take the space.
The city argued that the Cullens had effectively abandoned the property because the store was closed for two months. An inspection of the property found rotting foodstuffs, “offensive odors, ants and gnats” inside, Assistant City Attorney Ron Wigginton wrote in a Nov. 6 letter to the Cullens.
The Cullens said they never abandoned the property. They say the city violated state law by evicting them without enough notice.
They’re suing the city for wrongful eviction and breach of a commercial lease agreement.
The Cullens say they planned to sell the franchise to a new owner so they could return to Ireland to deal with family issues. They closed the store Sept. 14 anticipating the new owner would take over from them quickly.
When they discovered the new owner failed to pay the rent for September and October, they wrote the city a check for $3,752.95.
Wigginton told them the check came too late to solve the problem. The Cullens were evicted Nov. 8.
As a result, the Cullens say in their lawsuit, the return to Ireland was cancelled.