The Turkey Leg Hut, a celebrity-favorite restaurant known for its smoked and stuffed turkey legs, is embroiled in a lawsuit with five of its neighbors who claim that the restaurant’s smoke is significantly impacting their quality of life.
The lawsuit, filed in Harris County District Court on November 20, claims that the Turkey Leg Hut is responsible for the “continuous production of noxious thick wood smoke filled with harmful particulates that engulf and enter Plaintiffs’ homes.” The plaintiffs’ original petition cites “expert opinions” that “conclude the conditions present at the Turkey Leg Hut pose an elevated public health risk to the surrounding community as well as customers.”
On Wednesday, judge Cory Sepolio issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits the Turkey Leg Hut from using its smokers between “the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 p.m. daily.” A press release issued by Feldman & Feldman, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, characterized the judge’s decision as a win, though Sepolio did not bar the Turkey Leg Hut from operating the smokers altogether, as requested in the initial application for the order.
The suit further alleges that the Turkey Leg Hut has been operating “without appropriate permits from the City of Houston” since it opened at 4830 Alameda in August 2017, and claims they’ve been illegally operating the smokers used to cook the restaurant’s famed turkey legs. Photos included in the petition depict the living rooms of nearby homes filled with smoke that they allege is coming from Turkey Leg Hut.
“Plaintiffs cannot enjoy simple activities like taking a stroll or enjoying their patios with friends without inhaling the particulate matter hanging in the air,” the suit reads. The suit also notes that Turkey Leg Hut’s employees are being affected by the smoke, and that they are “frequently seen exposing themselves to the smoke without any kind of air filtration masks.”
In response to the lawsuit, Turkey Leg Hut co-owner Nakia Price declined to provide comment on the specific allegations to Eater, but issued the following statement:
“At this time this is a pending legal matter, and we are not able to comment. We are aware of the allegations against the Turkey Leg Hut and have been cooperative with the city of Houston and the associated departments.
We will continue to rigorously defend all allegations made against us as we always work hard to have a safe and healthy environment for our community and patrons. “
The complaints don’t stop with the smoke, either — the plaintiffs allege that Turkey Leg Hut’s “electronically amplified bass” (aka music) plays well into the night hours, allegedly in violation of the neighborhood’s noise ordinance, and that the garbage trucks used to empty the restaurant’s dumpsters create “cacophonous crashing noise[s]” at “all hours of the night.” The plaintiffs are also apparently tired of hearing “the sound of firewood being thrown and stacked for hours at a time” every day.
One plaintiff, Kirstin Bird, claims that she complained to the restaurant about its parking situation and was slapped with a cease and desist letter that “threatened to sue [Bird] for defamation/business disparagement” and allegedly ordered her to remove any “defamatory” statements about the Turkey Leg Hut posted to her social media.
This isn’t the first time that Turkey Leg Hut’s neighbors have complained about its operations. Back in May, the Museum Park Neighborhood Association lodged complaints about the Turkey Leg Hut’s parking situation, and claimed that its patrons were drunkenly urinating in nearby residents’ front yards.
The temporary restraining order barring Turkey Leg Hut from using its smokers is, according to the judge’s order, set to expire on December 4. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for December 6.