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Dispute over busted pipe shuts down restaurant

Posted at 10:51 PM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 22:51:06-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The tables and chairs sit empty at Taco Viva Pizzeria in Fort Myers. The owners claim a leaky pipe was making things messy.

“We forced ourselves to close because of the condition of the restaurant. We didn’t want anyone to be getting sick or having any issues coming in here,” said Denise Manzo, owner of Taco Viva Pizzeria.

They claim the restaurant’s dispute with its landlord, the Days Inn Wyndham Fort Myers Springs Resort, is putting their financial health at risk.

“I’ve invested all of my life savings, my money into here,” Manzo said.

The restaurant’s been closed for over a month, and they say the pipe still isn’t fixed.

“The owner of the hotel is not doing anything about it. We’ve notified him numerous times,” Manzo said.

But the hotel owner says it’s their repair to make and pay off; his lawyer told Fox 4 the lease makes that clear.

“They knew the condition of the premises; they took them in the condition that they were. They’re responsible for any expense, charges, obligations whatsoever,” said Andrew Epstein, the lessor’s attorney.

But the restaurant owners claim their interpretation of the lease is different, saying as long as they tell the hotel owners of “repairs/maintenance” than it should be “fixed in a reasonable time frame.”

“It was reported to them, this has been going on for months. This is not just something that happened now,” said Donald Lango, manager of the restaurant.

The hotel’s lawyer acknowledges there are conflicting interpretations of the lease.

“The lesses are saying something; the lessors are saying something else. Hopefully, we’ll figure out what’s really going on down there,” Epstein said.