What started as a “dream come true” for Emily Wingerter has turned into a nightmare.
“It’s over,” said a tearful Emily about the loss of their Luling restaurant. “This was my dream.”
Wingerter, along with her husband, Troy, and daughters Jessica and Nicole, were well underway with remodeling the former Squeal and Moo location in Luilng and readying to start the business when they were shocked by an eviction notice that appeared on the door in mid-October.
In September, the owners of The Little Kitchen in Westwego had announced they were expanding their home cooking menu to St. Charles Parish. They were going to call it Cheramie’s Food and Spirits, based on Emily’s family name.
A month later, the family found an eviction notice on the restaurant’s door, but Troy Wingerter displayed a five-year lease they had with Jay Roberts, who died shortly after inking the deal. They say they then signed a lease with Roberts’ son, Phillip Roberts, who could not be reached for comment by press time. Phillip earlier told the Herald-Guide the building was still part of his father’s estate and was being handled by the executor of the will, whom he did not name.
When the Wingerters’ attorney advised the family that they had a legitimate lease, they announced earlier this month that they were moving forward with plans to open the restaurant despite the eviction notice.
That all changed last week. Emily announced they could not get the property value needed to get insurance, and opening the business without it would violate the lease.
Additionally, Troy Wingerter said they have gotten even worse news.
“They are suing us for being on the premises and saying we don’t have the right to be on the premises,” a frustrated Troy said. “We’ve got a lease. How do you sue me for having a lease to be on the premises?”
Additionally, he said the eviction came after they made an estimated $50,000 in building improvements, which they are seeking to recover. They had hired 12 people in anticipation of opening, and are still receiving bills from the location.
“I’m just trying to be calm with the situation,” Troy said. “Last week, I thought I’d have to bring my wife to the hospital she’s been so upset. She’s worrying herself to sickness.”
Troy said he’s been angry over his wife’s dream being taken from her.
“This was a dream come true for my wife to have a restaurant like this and they just took it,” he said. “My wife is grieving over this. It hurts me, but it makes me mad, too. That is my significant other.”