The Turkey Leg Hut restaurant in a press conference today, says it is not a health hazard and questioned the timing of the lawsuit seeking to shut it down just days before Thanksgiving and when it had planned, it says, to give away 3,000 free turkey legs to families in the nearby Third Ward community.
“What is most puzzling to us is why the plaintiffs filed an emergency lawsuit now, the week before Thanksgiving, when the restaurant has been in operation for two years on Almeda,” said John Zavitsanos, lead counsel for the Turkey Leg Hut. “Why would anyone want to deny food or assistance to those who need it by requesting an emergency injunction to stop the preparation of that food?”
In response and separately, Cris Feldman of Feldman & Feldman, the firm acting on behalf of neighbors to the restaurant, said Friday that the suit was filed when it was because they got tired of waiting for something to be done about the heavy smoke generated by the operation of Turkey Leg Hut.
"Would there ever have been a good time for them to do this? We've been waiting for them to comply with the law," Feldman said. "And the problem has been getting worse and the public health threat has been getting worse."
In seeking a temporary and permanent injunction against the restaurant owned by Lynn and Nakia Price,, the lawsuit included statements from residents who complained of headaches and that it was hard to breathe around the smoke, particularly for children and people with asthma.
According to a statement on behalf of Turkey Leg Hut:
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Turkey Leg Hut founders and their attorneys are also bewildered that the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit one week after the Turkey Leg Hut publicly answered questions and shared their permits and construction plans to build a fully enclosed, ventilated structure over the smoking pit area to address the concerns from neighbors at the Museum Park Super Neighborhood Meeting on November 13, 2019. Oddly enough, a handful of neighbors present at that meeting opposed the construction of the pit enclosure that would solve the very issue this lawsuit is founded on.
In addition to the precarious timing of this lawsuit, the suit alleges the “air monitoring performed near the restaurant revealed high levels of pollutants that could pose a health risk”, as claimed by a private company hired by the plaintiffs. This is an issue for the City of Houston Health Department, not a private company.
The Turkey Leg Hut is actively working with the City of Houston to address any and all concerns to ensure they remain compliant with city ordinances, permits, and health department codes.
Besides its smoky exterior, the Turkey Leg Hut Restaurant is known as a gathering place for local politicians, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. Asked how they could have failed to note the conditions there, Feldman said: "They apparently turned a blind nose to it."
The restaurant plans to go ahead with its turkey leg giveaway at its location at 4830 Almeda. The legs will be handed out beginning at noon from the Turkey Leg Hut Express Truck.