One of Houston's most popular restaurant brands is in a battle with its landlord over rent payments.
Workers at The Original Ninfa's Uptown were surprised Tuesday to find that they couldn't get into the restaurant as BLVD Place landlord Whitestone REIT had locked the doors.
"This came as a bit of a shock. We have been negotiating in good faith for some time, and Ninfa’s was not requesting any rent forgiveness," said Neil Morgan, owner of Legacy Restaurants, the group which purchased The Original Ninfa's brand in 2006 and expanded into Uptown last year. "On Friday, we were informed that our proposed deferral and payment plan was acceptable subject to resolving one remaining issue, so we believed we were making progress."
Jim Mastandrea, CEO of Whitestone REIT, issued a statement Tuesday that stated The Original Ninfa's Uptown, though being open throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, hasn't paid rent since March.
"We’ve held extensive discussions with Ninfa’s; however, to date they have declined solutions for a mutually beneficial resolution," continued the statement. "Whitestone REIT has contributed significant investment and resources to Ninfa’s and we have a vested stake in their success. Ninfa’s refusal to make any payment toward rent or property expenses has left us with no choice. It is unfortunate Ninfa’s is not honoring its commitments as we also have responsibilities to our stakeholders, debt holders and shareholders."
Mastandrea finishes the statement by noting Whitestone REIT hopes to resolve the contract issues with Ninfa's. According to the Chronicle report, The Original Ninfa's on Navigation is not at risk for closure at this time.