Restaurant battle continues

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The battle over the installation of a Panda restaurant outside of the Ohio Valley Mall continues.

Not satisfied with the response from the Ohio Valley Mall Company to their complaint of a perceived violation of their lease with the company, Zhao Xu Wang and Juan Feng Lin, owners of Osaka Japanese Steakhouse, have taken the next step in their battle.

Through their attorney, Christopher Gagin, the owners have filed an injunction with OVMC, with the preliminary injunction hearing slated for Monday, Oct. 7 at 1 p.m. in Belmont County Common Pleas Court.

The lawsuit follows an early Sept. written response from the OVMC’s attorney which, according to Gagin, made it “abundantly clear that the matter could not be resolved short of court action.”

At issue is a handwritten provision in Osaka’s lease with the OVMC that stipulates that no Chinese or Japanese style restaurants can be opened in or around the mall area.

The original press release issues by the OVMC detailing the coming of Panda stated that the restaurant will have a fusion of Asian cuisine, including Chinese, Japanese and other Pacific rim cultures.

The lease has a remedy limitation built into it that stipulates should a similar business be housed near the restaurant that Osaka would receive a 25 percent discount on its lease for 12 months.

However, Gagin and the plaintiffs believe the handwritten covenant supercedes this.

Wang and Lin believe that, if the Panda is allowed to open, it will have a detrimental effect on their business and livelihood.

“My clients and I will not be intimidated,” Gagin said. “If the Ohio Valley Mall Company feels the need to sue me personally, so be it. David wasn’t afraid of Goliath, and we aren’t afraid to pursue the rights we believe Osaka pays for each and every month through its rent check.”

In the complaint filed in Commons Pleas Court, it’s alleged that the OVMC “made certain unilateral, undisclosed amendments/alterations to the hand-written restrictive covenant provision via lineout, as well as additional typewriter symbols and language that Plaintiffs’ predecessors-in-interest never saw, initialed or approved, nor did Plaintiffs ever expressly approve.”

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