It's been a bad week for the Laurenzos. Earlier this week came the news that their El Tiempo 1308 Cantina on Montrose is closing within the next few months due the land being sold out from under them by the landlord.
Now comes a press release from Roland Laurenzo via their public relations firm, The Epicurean Publicist, stating that they're pulling the El Tiempo name from what they are saying would have been their sole licensed location, which was planned for the Webster area.
The press release asserts that the location that was slated to open at 20237 Gulf Freeway has not paid to license their use of the El Tiempo name. Excerpts from the release read as follows:
The Webster location was our first and only license ever granted. The licensee stopped paying its bills which were significant, thus defaulting on our agreement.
We have filed a federal lawsuit to get our signage removed, and to resolve many other related matters that are under dispute. There has been no settlement. We are awaiting our day in court to stop the licensee from moving forward without our permission, which is what they want to do, and is something that we cannot allow to happen, for very good reasons.
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There are two sides to this story, however. Alison Cook at Houston Chronicle reports that Liquid Gold, the would-be licensee, claims that the construction company owned by El Tiempo has failed to do work promised. Liquid Gold claims that they asked El Tiempo to not cash over $200,000 worth of checks given to them since the work was not completed.
Furthermore, the company states they plan to move forward, regardless of the lawsuit filed by El Tiempo. The attorney for Liquid Gold told Houston Chronicle that 18 El Tiempo locations were slated to open under the agreement, including one in The Woodlands.
Agreements with third parties just don't seem to go well for the Laurenzo family, who are the descendants of "Mama" Ninfa Laurenzo of the landmark Tex-Mex restaurant, Ninfa's. At one point, there were more than 55 Ninfa's locations. In 1996, the holding company filed for bankruptcy and the family lost all control of the name. The first El Tiempo location marked a new beginning for Laurenzo's heirs.
We'll keep you posted as more information on the lawsuits and any potential resolutions comes to light.