Erin's Isle open for business

Pub owner fighting to keep restaurant

Roger LaLonde Staff 
 Mike Ward, Erin's Isle Irish Pub owner, greets long- time customer Jim Lindsey at the restaurant on Friday. The land that Erin's Isle sits on has been sold and Ward has been told to vacate the property by June 15. He is fighting to stay at the location where he has served customers for 30 years.

Photo by ROGER LALONDE

Roger LaLonde Staff Mike Ward, Erin's Isle Irish Pub owner, greets long- time customer Jim Lindsey at the restaurant on Friday. The land that Erin's Isle sits on has been sold and Ward has been told to vacate the property by June 15. He is fighting to stay at the location where he has served customers for 30 years.

Roger LaLonde Staff 
 Erin's Isle Irish Pub, a popular restaurant for 30 years, faces closing and the building demolished as a new owner of the land has gives owner Mike Ward to the middle of June to close. Ward has no intention of closing and is fighting to stay open.

Photo by ROGER LALONDE

Roger LaLonde Staff Erin's Isle Irish Pub, a popular restaurant for 30 years, faces closing and the building demolished as a new owner of the land has gives owner Mike Ward to the middle of June to close. Ward has no intention of closing and is fighting to stay open.

Erin's Isle Irish Pub, remains open, but on rocky footing.

Located between Marco Island and Naples on Collier Boulevard, the 30-year-old restaurant hangs in, though its owner Mike Ward has been told the property is sold and the building will be torn down.

James Moon, Naples attorney, representing the seller, Laupco, Inc., said the land, which Ward has leased the entire time, has been sold in what he termed a confidential sale.

He said Ward was notified in writing the first part of May, with a June 15 deadline to close the restaurant.

"He (Ward) was told his lease is being considered terminated in the middle of June and to vacate the premises," Moon said on Friday.

"Scare tactics" is what Ward called the notification. "I am staying open."

When the Marco Eagle first published a story on June 1 of Erin's Isle closing, Ward said his customers were very concerned.

"They are worried about me closing and clients for the catering business have called to ask about us being able to cater for them, some later this year and some in 2013," Ward said.

Normally, Ward would have been closed the first two weeks in June for vacation, but he is not closing. His restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, which are the restaurant's summer hours.

Ward has leased the property since May 1, 1983, as Ward Services. At the time it was a 20-year lease, which ran until Sept. 30, 2003. The lease included two seven-year options and a memorandum to allow parking for the restaurant behind the Texaco gas station.

Ward renewed the first option in 2003. He said he renewed the second option in 2010, but Laupco never signed it. It was to have gone to September, 2017.

Moon said the Texaco property, which also includes a vegetable store behind the gas station, has been sold.

Both properties have Leroy A. Laupert of Naples on the county ownership records. Laupco, Inc. is the owner of record for Erin's Isle and T.C.L., Inc. for the gas station.

Moon said Laupert is not the only owner, that he is the managing partner.

Figen Peksen, who has leased the property to run the Texaco gas station for 23 years, said she has not received any kind of notification of the sale. Her lease runs into 2019.

"I check the county records every day," she said.

Since 2010, when she heard the property might get sold, she has been on the watch, particularly for a demolition permit.

She thinks Race Trac gas is interested in taking over the properties.

According to the Race Trac website, most Race Trac's feature a 5,000-plus square-foot convenience store, offering more than 4,000 items and 20-24 fueling positions.

In 2010 Race Trac made a pre-application appointment with the county, but did not follow up with a meeting, county records show. Calls to Dana Reed, Race Trac marketing director, were not returned.

TCL filed a request for a demolition permit earlier this month for the Texaco property, also including the parking lot and vegetable store, according to county records. The application is now under county review.

Although Moon said a demolition permit was issued for Erin's Isle, county records do not indicate a permit was issued. It also does not show a record for the sale of Erin's Isle.

Ward said he made monthly rent payments over the past two years to Laupco and he has made all improvements to the property.

Moon said his client disputes the issue of rent payments.

Moon also said that the building still has a serious mold issue.

Ward said he spent $70,000 last summer to correct the problem, but Moon said the work was inadequately done and is concerned from a public safety standpoint.

The bottom line is Ward does not plan on vacating.

Moon said an eviction notice could take three weeks or longer. "It may take months," he said.

For now, Ward continues to greet his customers as they come into the restaurant.

Jim Lindsey, who has been coming to Erin's Isle for eight years, said that the possible closing "is horrible. It will be a big loss to the community."

While the new owner is not known, Wards wants the lease honored. He continues to advertise.

One employee, Colleen White, isn't giving up either."If the time comes I'll be yelling 'Hell no, we won't go,'" she said.

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Comments » 1

happy6 writes:

only people that care are the south side irish from chicago

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