NAPLES — A downtown Naples cricket is no longer chirping.
More than three years after opening, the Jolly Cricket, a popular Fifth Avenue South restaurant, closed last week. The closure marks the end of a year-long saga between the restaurant's owners and landlord over the rent.
"We closed the Jolly Cricket on Friday, which is a huge disappointment," restaurant owner Jane Wood said in an email to the Daily News, referring Nov. 9.
"Unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement with our landlord — who is a partner in the business — plus there were a number of contenders to take over the Jolly Cricket, making it best to move on, especially as the judgment did not go our way."
A Collier County circuit court judge Nov. 9 found Ingram Building Co., the Naples-based company that owns the Ingram Building at 720 Fifth Ave. S., could evict New Forest Holdings, the Naples-based company that operates the Jolly Cricket.
Ingram Building filed its initial suit in May 2011, claiming the restaurant's owners — Wood and her husband Tony — hadn't paid rent in several months, occupied a unit adjacent to the building it was renting without a lease, and etched the windows of the restaurant without the property owner's permission.
Ingram Building officials were looking to evict the restaurant and eject it from the adjacent unit. The lawsuit also asked New Forest Holdings to pay for damages — like back rent and utilities — and attorneys fees.
The Woods fired back almost immediately. The couple filed a countersuit in 2011 claiming the Ingram Building breached the lease, interfered with the restaurant's business relations and defamed the couple.
Collier County Judge Cynthia Pivacek, in the Nov. 9 ruling in favor of the Ingram Building in the 2011 countersuit, said the Ingram Building Co. had proved its "case for eviction, ejectment and damages."
The court ordered the company to pay Ingram Building Co. more than $162,000 in damages.
Wood said she's disappointed they were forced to close the restaurant, but said she and her husband plan to refocus their efforts on Jane's Cafe on Third, 1209 Third Street South.
The Woods opened the Jolly Cricket in October 2009. The restaurant marked their fourth in Naples and brought the couple back to Fifth Avenue South, where they opened their first business — a coffee shop near the intersection of Eighth Street South and Fifth Avenue South — a decade ago.
Jane's Cafe on Third, which opened in December 2005, is the only restaurant that remains.