published Saturday, May 25th, 2013

Top of the Dock eatery shuttered: Lakeshore restaurant closes after lengthy fight with landlord

Memorial Day diners will have one fewer place to eat this year — Top of the Dock, a bar and restaurant at the Lakeshore Marina, has been shut down after loosing a lengthy legal battle against landlord Lakeshore Holdings.

Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Hollingsworth made the decision to kick Top of the Dock out this month, about a year-and a half after Lakeshore Holdings first took legal action against the restaurant to start the eviction process.

Lakeshore Holdings brought a myriad of complaints against Top of the Dock, including claims about damage to the property. But the judge's decision was based solely on the fact that Top of the Dock was not insured, said Terry Hensley, an attorney at Cavett and Abbott who represented Lakeshore Holdings.

And after receiving that ruling, Lakeshore Holdings decided not to pursue further action against Top of the Dock, he added.

"It wasn't the best of situations, but given the alternative of spending additional money to proceed and get a judgment that most likely wouldn't be able to be collected on, my clients didn't think it was feasible to continue," he said.

Top of the Dock, which is owned by Twanya Thompson and has been open since 2007, has run into legal trouble before. Last month, the Chattanooga Beer Board suspended the restaurant's beer license for three days after several people complained about litter and rowdy customers.

Top of the Dock's attorney, Jesse Farr, declined to comment on the case. Thompson could not be reached for comment Friday.

"Top of the Dock, one of Chattanooga's favorite place (sic) for great drinks, music and atmosphere has unfortunately closed to complications with our lease," the restaurant's website reads. "We thank you for your support and patronage over the past years and hope to see all of you again in the near future ... somewhere!"

Now that the restaurant is closed, Lakeshore Holdings is starting the process of making repairs to the building's roof, deck and electrical systems so the space can be leased again.

"Their main concern at the moment is getting the property back in a good and leasable condition," Hensley said.

He added that the repairs could take as long as three months and cost as much as $350,000. He's not sure when, or if, another tenant will move in.

"I can tell you my clients were very passionate about the case, and they weren't happy with the decision they had to make to not pursue," he said. "They felt they got the raw end of this."

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at sbradbury@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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