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Like the White House Turkey Pardon, Turkey Leg Hut Lives to Smoke Another Day (and Night)

The plaintiffs have decided to step aside for now and Turkey Leg Hut will continue to smoke.
The plaintiffs have decided to step aside for now and Turkey Leg Hut will continue to smoke. Evidence photo in lawsuit

On the same day the two parties were due back in court, the plaintiffs in the Turkey Leg Hut restaurant case announced they are suspending their lawsuit and giving the owners of the Third Ward facility one last chance to clean up their act.

Plaintiffs represented by Cris Feldman of Feldman and Feldman had argued that the restaurant on Almeda presented a public health danger with the unfettered smoke pouring from it at all hours and created a noise nuisance. The suit was filed, Feldman said, after appeals to the restaurant and the city of Houston were unsuccessful in changing anything. It was suggested that because the restaurant was popular with local politicians including Mayor Sylvester Turner, that a blind eye was turned to any environmental violations.

Turkey Leg Hut owners Nakia and Lyndell Price, whose smoking hours were restricted by a temporary restraining order invoked on November 20 and later amended to just December 2-4, charged in turn that the timing on the lawsuit just before Thanksgiving was unfair and suspicious. They also complained that this was an attempt by "gentrifiers" to force them from the neighborhood.They said they had been working to address any concerns the neighbors had.

On November 26, the Prices' attorney  attorney John Zavitsanos said his clients' business had been "unjustly damaged."

“The Prices aren’t big corporate villains, recklessly endangering the environment," he said at that time. "They’re a couple who invested their life’s savings into building a successful restaurant to serve smoked turkey legs in a neighborhood they love, and we will continue to vigorously defend all allegations against them in this lawsuit.”

In a statement released this morning, Feldman said: “We agreed to temporarily suspend, or ‘non-suit without prejudice,’ the litigation to give the Turkey Leg Hut owners one last chance to get in compliance with the law and finally become good neighbors. Throughout 2019, neighbors have endured a noxious stream of smoke from the restaurant. Contrary to the manufactured ‘antigentrification’ campaign of Turkey Leg Hut activists, this legal dispute emanated purely from the public health, nuisance and regulatory issues caused by the operation of the restaurant which only moved to the area in mid-2018.”

"The Turkey Leg Hut has been issued numerous department inspection violations since 2018 and continues
to benefit from inexplicable regulatory treatment from the city, Feldman said.

“For more than a year,” Feldman added, “Third Ward residents near the Turkey Leg Hut strived to work with its owners only to be threatened legally and attacked on social media and elsewhere. The neighbors hope the suspension of the litigation causes the Prices to make the most of this opportunity to comply with local laws and city health department regulations like other restaurateurs. After all, the Turkey Leg Hut’s outside cooking operation is still illegal. If it stays that way, we’ll be back in court.”
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing