With much anticipation, the Wingerters were ready to open their new Luling restaurant when the unthinkable happened.
“I have terrible news,” said a stunned Amelia Wingerter. “They left an eviction notice on the door. They didn’t have the decency to contact me.”
The family emptied the building a couple weeks ago, but since that time Amelia said their attorney has advised they have a valid five-year lease with Jay Roberts, who died shortly after signing it, and they intend to come to Luling as planned.
The Wingerters, who own The Little Kitchen in Westwego, had decided to expand their business to Luling in the old Squeal and Moo location.
Amelia and her husband, Troy, along with daughters Jessica and Nicole, were planning to call the restaurant Cheramie’s Food and Spirits.
The family signed the lease with Roberts and then signed a second one with Robert’s son, Phillip.
Phillip Roberts said that the building has never changed hands and is being handled by the executor of the will, whom he did not name. He added that it’s still part of the estate.
As a result, Amelia said an eviction notice appeared on the restaurant door stating the owner wanted his property back and gave the Wingerter family 10 days to leave the premises.
Amelia reached Roberts’ attorney, Kerry Hand of New Orleans, who she said told her they don’t have a binding lease.
Her attorney disagreed and advised they occupy the restaurant as planned.
“They left an eviction notice on the door on Monday. They didn’t have the decency to contact me.” — Amelia Wingerter
The Wingerters have started bringing back equipment and buying food to start up the business.
“I think we’re coming to Luling,” she said. “They’re gonna have to throw us out.”
The Wingerters had substantially invested in preparing the Luling location to open for business before the eviction notice, including putting a piano in the building and having a mural painted on the wall. They’d also hired 12 people in anticipation of the opening, she said.
“It was beautiful,” said Amelia of the building’s interior. “We were all so excited. I’ve already received utility bills.”
Plans were to open Oct. 7, but the opening was delayed to Oct. 21 for a Board of Health inspection. It was during this time the eviction notice appeared on the door.
Amelia said Phillip Roberts had even eaten twice at their Westwego restaurant and on one of those visits they signed the second lease.
“We’re going to start back from scratch,” she said. “We’re opening as soon as possible. Tell everyone to just show love and support … we’re coming.”
Luling restaurant history
- Sailfish Food and Spirits was damaged by an electrical fire in January of 2014. The restaurant later closed.
- In November of 2014, the Cajun-Creole Pierre’s Restaurant Bar and Grill opened and then it also closed.
- Rye Canteen opened in January of 2016 and closed by April 2017. Owner Barrett Robert called it his dream, but he closed it to take a 9-to-5 job.
- Squeal and Moo barbeque restaurant closed after one year in business. In a Facebook post, owners Kip and Lori Bergeron stated continuing to operate would prove unfeasible. They had opened the location in July of 2018.
- Cheramie’s Food and Spirits was scheduled to open Oct. 21, but was less than two weeks from opening when an eviction notice was posted on the restaurant door.