Cherry Pie Hospitality has abandoned plans to open Lee’s Creamery in the Heights, and now the restaurant group and its former partner Lee Ellis are involved in a legal battle related to the ice cream shop’s planned location.
Earlier this year, Eater reported that Cherry Pie Hospitality would open Lee’s Creamery at 250 West 19th Street, and now a spokesperson for Cherry Pie Hospitality tells Eater that the restaurant group is no longer involved in the Lee’s Creamery project, and that it won’t open as originally planned. Court documents filed in Harris County District Court indicate that back in May, the owner of the building filed a lawsuit against Cherry Pie Hospitality and Lee’s Creamery, seeking more than $1 million in damages related to breaching the lease on the space.
According to that lawsuit, the landlord alleges that an entity called 4 Boys and a Girl, for which Ellis is a co-owner and registered agent, operated Lee’s Creamery and failed to comply with some of the terms of its lease, including not completing construction on the space that it rented. The suit further claims that the creamery was expected to open sometime before May 1, which didn’t happen, and 4 Boys and a Girl allegedly didn’t pay rent on the space for that month. Ellis left Cherry Pie Hospitality in March, but the lawsuit claims that Cherry Pie is still financially responsible because it signed an agreement to guarantee the lease.
Cherry Pie Hospitality, which also operates Pi Pizza, Star Fish, and State Fare, among other eateries, filed a response in conjunction with 4 Boys and a Girl in Harris County District Court in late June. The companies denied the landlord’s allegations, and claimed in defense that the landlord “failed to mitigate damages” caused by the ice cream shop’s failure, but doesn’t go into further detail. Cherry Pie Hospitality’s spokesperson did not comment on the lawsuit.
As for what will become of the space at 250 West 19th, a new ice cream shop has already taken up residence. A tipster tells Eater that signage is up for Sweet Bribery, a “nostalgic” creamery that will serve wine and “adult floats.” Roost’s Kevin Naderi is possibly linked to the project as a consultant, but no announcement has been made on when it will open.
Eater has reached out to Ellis for comment on the suit, and will update this post as new details become available.