Days after a bombshell lawsuit alleged that Third Ward favorite Turkey Leg Hut was operating illegally, the restaurant is fighting back against claims that they say are “defamatory.”
In a press conference on Friday morning, Turkey Leg Hut owner Nakia Price described the claims made in the lawsuit, which alleges that Turkey Leg Hut’s smokers operate outside of city regulations and cause serious problems for its residential neighbors, as “purely speculative.” “This lawsuit was filed by a handful of people who want to vilify the Turkey Leg Hut as a nuisance to the community,” Price said. “It is difficult to not presume that they just don’t want us here.”
Price also said that, back in September, the Turkey Leg Hut obtained a permit from the city of Houston to build a “ventilated, fully-enclosed smoking area” that they hoped would solve any disputes between the restaurant and its neighbors. “We are willing to do whatever we have to do to resolve this concern,” Price said. “We brought our business back here to give back to the community and drive economic development in the area.”
The lawsuit, filed in Harris County District Court on November 20, claims that the Turkey Leg Hut’s “noxious” smoke is pouring into homes near the restaurant, along with a laundry list of complaints against the restaurant that ranges from noise complaints to allegations that its customers park illegally in the neighborhood. On Wednesday, judge Cory Sepolio issued a temporary restraining order barring the Turkey Leg Hut from operating its smokers between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 p.m. every day.
Toward the end of her statement, Price slammed the lawsuit’s five plaintiffs, arguing that the restraining order sought in the suit to shut down the Turkey Leg Hut’s smokers would have prevented the restaurant from feeding the needy on Thanksgiving. “Monday, we will be handing out 3,000 free turkey legs to kids and other people in the neighborhood,” Price said. “The plaintiffs in this suit tried to stop us from providing free food to families on the holidays with the emergency restraining order to shut us down.”
After Price’s statement, Turkey Leg Hut general counsel Jeremy Pinckney described the lawsuit as “absurd” and “defamatory,” and addressed other allegations related to noise complaints and parking violations in the suit. “There’s noise right there,” Pinckney said, referring to a trash truck’s loud beeping during the press conference. “Are they going to shut the trash can down?”
“This os one of Houston’s most successful restaurants, if not the most successful restaurant,” Pinckney claimed. “Living here is busy, and I understand people want some privacy, but unfortunately you live right next to a restaurant. It’s mixed use, it’s Houston. Welcome to Houston.”
A hearing on the temporary restraining order restricting Turkey Leg Hut’s smokers is set for December 6. Stay tuned for an update.