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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2019 2 weeks ago

Captain's BBQ sues Flagler County government

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The restaurant filed a four-count complaint against the county on June 7.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Captain’s BBQ filed suit against the Flagler County government on June 7, seeking in excess of $15,000 and alleging that the county breached its contract with the restaurant when it reneged on a new lease agreement the county approved with Captain’s last November.

The building the restaurant leases in the county-owned park has structural problems. 

The previous county administration, under then-County Administrator Craig Coffey, had proposed that the restaurant move elsewhere within the park, in a new building to be built at Captain’s’ expense. That would let the restaurant operate without interruption, whereas attempting to rebuild the current building in place would mean displacing the business during reconstruction, potentially violating the county’s lease with Captain’s. For Captain’s, the relocation would have allowed an increase in size to 150 seats, a number that would make it easier to obtain a liquor license. 

In November, the County Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the proposed changes at Bings. That meeting was  County Commissioner Nate McLaughlin’s last meeting as a commissioner,  and the vote was held over the objections of incoming Commissioner Joe Mullins. 

But two weeks later, with Mullins on the commission, the board voted 4-0 to reconsider its previous approval, even though the lease had already been signed. And on June 3, it decided to have the Captain’s building inspected  again to see if it is truly beyond repair, and then, if so, to have a modestly-sized replacement restaurant building, without any seating expansion, built for Captain’s at the county’s expense. In addition, the county decided not to guarantee an extension of Captain’s lease beyond 2026.

But according to Captain’s BBQ attorney Casey Arnold, Captain’s has a valid lease: The one executed by the county after the commission’s vote in November.

The county, Arnold wrote in his complaint, did not have the legal authority to void the November lease after its execution.

The county, Armold wrote, was making changes to the lease without the restaurant’s consent, and, “Such actions or resolutions by the Commission would be an unconstitutional impairment of Plaintiff’s contractual rights.” The complaint lists four counts: Breach of contract,  breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, declaratory judgement that the November 2018 lease remains valid, and a judgement against the county for performance of the amended lease, and for damages and attorney’s fees.

County Attorney Al Hadeed notified commissioners of the lawsuit by email June 7, writing that the complaint would be forwarded the county’s insurer for a coverage determination.

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