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Gnarly Gar fighting to stay in new building on Lake Travis marina

Posted: Tue, 19 Apr 2016 10:11 AM - 4,803 Readers

By: Rachel Rice

The Gnarly Gar floating restaurant and marina at the mouth of the cove. (photo credit Point Venture Retreat)

The Gnarly Gar has operated in the same spot off a marina on Lake Travis for nearly a decade, managing to survive the lean years of drought while most of the other floating restaurants closed their doors when business dried up. But now a crumbling foundation and an eviction notice might force the restaurant from its waterfront spot.

The restaurant occupies a rickety building bolted to a Point Venture Property Owners Association marina, where it plays host to a plenitude of repeat customers. While the dining area is newer and safer, portions of the building are 40 years old, and its kitchen floor suffered a collapse in September 2014. After the property owners association hired an engineer to inspect the premises in 2010, the Lower Colorado River Authority came knocking, saying the dilapidated building was reaching the end of its life and would need to be extensively repaired or removed.

Gnarly Gar owner Todd Hynes leases the structure. He said he always anticipated the association would move the restaurant into new digs, so when the association purchased the Johnny Fin marina structure with plans to move it to the Gar’s current spot, he wasn’t alarmed.

Then the eviction notice arrived.

The notice of termination, dated Feb. 17, says an inspection of the “demised premises,” as it’s referred to in the original lease, showed “severe deterioration of the metal trusses that form the structural foundation underneath” the building. The letter asks that the Gnarly Gar clear out by March 31 — which hasn’t happened.

“The lease is subject only to that one dock,” association attorney Greg Cagle said. “The association is going to have new infrastructure out there, and it is their intent to open it up to public bid so anybody can come and bid on operating a restaurant on it. The folks that run the Gnarly Gar are welcome to and invited to participate on the bid.”

Hynes and attorney Jason Nassour argue otherwise. They filed a lawsuit in April against Point Venture POA, asking the judge for a declaratory judgment that the Gnarly Gar has the right to operate out of the new building in the same location for the duration of its lease, which continues for at least a year.

“They’re trying to argue the lease applies literally to the wood and the nails, and we’re trying to say no, it’s the location and the property that’s there,” Nassour said.

Cagle said if the operators of the Gar believe the lease was terminated unfairly, the only legal relief provided under the lease agreement is “monetary judgment out of the association’s interest in the facility.”

“The association is willing to tender full possession of the structure (to the Gnarly Gar) if they would like,” Cagle said. “Whatever remedy the Gnarly Gar has under the lease, the association is willing to give it to them.”

Some residents have asked why the Gar wouldn’t automatically assume operation in the new structure on the marina.

Cagle said the Johnny Fin building is bigger and newer, and leasing it to the Gar’s operators at the current rental rate would not make financial sense. Hynes said he offered to negotiate a higher rent, but that the association was not open to discussions. At press time, association board members had not responded to requests for comment.

“This is the only place to go on the lake, and it’s got a great atmosphere, and it’s great for families,” customer Erik Johnson said. “We don’t know what’s going on or why Todd is being ousted.”
Diners eat overlooking the water at the Gnarly Gar on April 15. The dining area is one of the newer sections of the building. (photo credit Rachel Rice)

*  Story Contributed by: Rachel Rice


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