PUNTA GORDA — Fans of Harpoon Harry’s and Captain’s Table in Punta Gorda can rest easy knowing that neither restaurant will be leaving their home of almost 30 years at Fishermen’s Village.
Smuggler’s Enterprises, owners of the two restaurants, and ATA Fishville, owners of Fishermen’s Village, have been in a legal battle over lease rates and other issues since 2018.
The dispute even reached a point that threatened the restaurants’ status at Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade.
The two companies resolved those issues last week, however, and are focusing on the future.
“We have resolved our disputes with Fishermen’s Village and look forward to working together to serve our customers,” wrote Smuggler’s Vice President Kelly Liscum in an email to the Sun.
Fishville Marketing Manager Kathy Burnam echoed Liscum’s sentiment.
“(We) are looking forward to working together to support Fishermen’s Village in the future,” Burnam wrote in a Fishville press release. “Punta Gorda residents and visitors are encouraged to come out to Fishermen’s Village and enjoy the beautiful Harborwalk extension to the Village and take in a sunset view at Harpoon Harry’s or the Captain’s Table.”
Details of the settlement between the two companies could not be determined.
“Both parties have agreed to keep the terms of the agreement confidential,” said Fishville General Manager Patti Allen.
The lease rate dispute dates back to an Oct. 23, 2018, letter from ATA Fishville to Smuggler’s, according to a Nov. 21, 2018, complaint filed by Smuggler’s with the Charlotte County court.
In the letter, Fishville informed the company that its new rent would be $202.94 per square foot — or about $255,704 a month — up from the previous year’s lease rent of $24.75 per square foot, or $31,185 a month.
Smuggler’s filed a declaratory judgement action complaint with the Charlotte County court Nov. 21, 2018, disputing the renewal rate under the belief that Fishville had interpreted the terms of the lease incorrectly.
ATA Fishville responded Dec. 6, 2018, to that complaint by filing an answer and defense, as well as a counterclaim as an action for eviction and recovery of damages.
Fishville claimed that Smuggler’s was a holdover tenant — someone who does not have the right to be there — and since the company does not agree with the lease terms, it must vacate the building.
Smuggler’s claimed it did have the right to maintain operations during the legal proceedings because it had already exercised its right to renew the lease in a July 30, 2018 renewal notice, which would run until 2023.
Smuggler’s previous lease had expired Nov. 30, 2018, according to the Dec. 6 counterclaim filed by Fishville.
At the time, Fishville denied Smuggler’s assertion that the company had manipulated the other village restaurants’ lease rates to suggest a higher square-foot-rental rate, among other allegations.
In the counterclaim, Fishville demanded Smuggler’s leave the leased premises immediately and pay for any holdover rent.