Murphy: Terra Plata wins legal fight to stay in Melrose Market

Seattle chef Tamara Murphy has won her battle against the developers of the Melrose Market to keep her lease and open her ambitious Terra Plata restaurant on Capitol Hill. Murphy filled us in on the details of the outcome of the case by e-mail after CHS tracked down information indicating that the legal process was complete. Here is Murphy’s mail to CHS:

The judge ruled in Terra Plata’s favor. The judge has ordered that our lease remains in effect, there was no default, and our space must be delivered according to the lease as we initially signed on for. Although this unfortunate and unnecessary contention has taken it’s toll, the Terra Plata team remains hopeful that with open and honest communication, both parties can overcome our differences and move ahead. We look forward to building out Terra Plata and opening our restaurant very soon.

Earlier this month, we documented the lawsuit over the potentially decade-long lease for the space. CHS first reported on signs of trouble in March when we found a letter detailing $46,000 in rent and expenses the developers said they were owed. CHS found court records documenting the lawsuit brought by the Melrose developers against Murphy’s Terra Plata over those issues. The case went to an arbitrator responsible for deciding how much money was owed, who owed it and if Terra Plata stayed.

Court documents show that the legal battle hinged on one key question: Is the lack of a private dining room a ‘material defect’ that the Melrose Project developers are responsible for repairing? The failure of the developers to provide an adequate space for a private dining facility hidden away inside the Terra Plata space is such a critical flaw, Murphy’s legal team posited in the court filings, that the agreed-on 5-year lease term with another 5-year option didn’t start in December as the Melrose Project contended. Murphy’s lawyers said she doesn’t owe a dime of the $8,223.77 monthly rent plus 15% of building expenses until that ‘defect’ is corrected.

Public records have not yet been will likely not be released documenting the terms of the arbitration and Murphy did not provide information beyond the statement we have included above. We have also not yet spoken to the principals in the Melrose Market project including Hill super-developer Liz Dunn and Scott Shapiro of Eagle Rock Ventures.

The decision means Seattle restaurateur Deming Maclise’s plan to open a new restaurant in the Market won’t be realized. Maclise told CHS earlier this month that he would be happy if Murphy was able to keep the space.

“Tamara has put a lot of money and time into that space,” Maclise said. “If she ends up getting it, I think that’s great. If she does walk away, I hope both sides are not too injured.”

Meanwhile, according to Murphy, there’s work to be done at the future home of Terra Plata. The space needs a private dining room per Murphy’s specs. Now, after a 4-month legal battle, it’s going to get one.

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3 thoughts on “Murphy: Terra Plata wins legal fight to stay in Melrose Market

  1. Thinking of old posts, I knew the tenant was going to win this one.

    The land lord must deliver the exact specs required in the lease.

  2. It is nice to see that what is just can prevail with a legal system that does not always allow what is right and what is law to fall on the same side. Good for Tamara. She deserves the opportunity to realize her hard work and open her new restaurant. We deserve the opportunity enjoy her fabulous food in her new restaurant… I can’t wait!