Nearly two years after leasing space in the 35-story Confluence apartment complex, and after investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Korean barbecue restaurant that never opened, local restaurateurs say they are being evicted due to a clerical error.
They’re asking a judge to put a stop to that.
The Hwaro restaurant group has leased four spaces around the metro area in recent years. Hwaro Premium Sushi opened this year at the base of the Millennium Bridge and another Hwaro sushi restaurant is planned for Wheat Ridge. There will also be Moonbongri, a Korean restaurant in Aurora.
As for the fourth, Hwaro Korean BBQ, its future is in a court’s hands.
In a lawsuit filed Aug. 24 in Denver District Court, Hwaro said its lease with The Confluence at 1441 Little Raven St. was contingent on Hwaro receiving a liquor license from the city. When it applied for the liquor license using the suite number provided by The Confluence, its application was rejected because the number was incorrect, Hwaro claims.
The minor mistake was corrected and Hwaro resubmitted its application, according to the lawsuit. But before the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses could consider the application, The Confluence ended Hwaro’s lease on July 5, Hwaro co-owner Jeff Lee said in an email.
It is unclear if Hwaro failed to meet a deadline in the lease agreement to obtain the liquor license.
The Confluence “has demanded that Hwaro vacate and remove its property from the premises,” Hwaro’s lawsuit states. “Hwaro has attempted to negotiate…to no avail.”
“Hwaro (has) made investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the property and their business so that they may open their intended restaurant,” it states.
Hwaro — the “w” is silent — alleges the apartment complex was negligent in failing to update its records with the city and acted in bad faith when it tried to evict Hwaro. It is asking Judge Alex Myers to stop The Confluence from ousting it and award Hwaro an undetermined amount of money from the apartment complex for damages and attorney fees.
The Confluence, which opened in 2017, did not respond to emails and voicemails seeking comment on the lawsuit. Neither did its management company, Kairoi Residential.
Hwaro is represented by attorneys Michael Rollin and Lindsey Idelberg with the Denver business law firm Foster Graham Milstein & Calisher.