Downtown Detroit restaurant battles Dan Gilbert landlord

Angelina Bistro owner claims excessive maintenance fees

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor

DETROIT - The owner of the Angelina Bistro restaurant in downtown Detroit says he is being asked to pay outrageously high fees for building improvements that provide no benefit to his business.

Tom Agosta opened his business in the Madison Building on Grand Circus Park during the depth of the recession. He held on through the hard time but now faces an uncertain future.

Dan Gilbert's Bedrock Real Estate Group is his landlord, and Agosta says his maintenance fees are being raised 400 percent.  Agosta said he was originally promised a fee reduction, so when he challenged the increase, he said he got a nasty letter.

"You have to leave the premises and you haven't paid your maintenance fees," Agosta said.

Agosta has filed a lawsuit, claiming Bedrock wanted his restaurant to open for lunch and offer employees of Quicken Loans a 10 percent discount.  He said he is being punished for refusing to go along.

"Our attorney said this is absolutely vindictive," Agosta said.

Bedrock is not commenting, but issued a statement.

"Not only do we charge market or below market lease rates, but we make every effort to promote our tenants business by marketing their products and services in numerous ways," the statement reads.

Elizabeth Rose, owner of the Roasting Plant coffee shop, said she could not ask for a better landlord.

"In terms of publicizing our brand, they've been extremely cooperative and responsive to all of our physical need or issues," Rose said.

Tom Agosta said if his lawsuit does not prevail, he will pay the higher fees, but will refuse to be forced out.

"They were going to close me down, so I am standing up for my business, my employees and my customers," Agosta said.

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