has filed suit against the city and City Manager Blair King, accusing them of “unfair, undue and inequitable harassment.”
The suit, which seeks at least $5 million in damages, was filed Tuesday by Nicky Rottens Investment Group in U.S. District Court in San Diego. The city was served Wednesday and King is being served Thursday, according to Ron A. Stormoen, the attorney representing the eatery.
“I just wanted to be a family restaurant and be treated like other similar businesses,” owner Tim Aaron said. “That is all I’ve wanted from the beginning, but the city won’t let me.”
City officials said Thursday that King was not available for comment.
The 33-page complaint contends that the restaurant has been “the target of unreasonably stricter code enforcement, arbitrary and unreasonable land use regulations and/or unreasonable and unnecessary special conditions, delay and other unequal treatment.”
It also alleges that city has “specifically targeted” the business by treating it “differently and disparately than other and/or all other similarly situated commercial establishments.”
“We walk up and down Orange Avenue and see other restaurants that don’t have to follow the same rules as we do,” Stormoen said.
As examples, the attorney cited the requirement that the eatery close its large windows, which open to an outdoor seating area, by 10 p.m., and the treatment of their parking plan.
Nicky Rottens, he said, has to provide valet parking for customers, but the city has refused to provide a space for the valet to use, though Stormoen claims other restaurants have received the accommodation.
The restaurant must provide parking under the city's Orange Avenue Specific Plan; with Coronado Hardware in March.
Since its inception, the owners of Nicky Rottens could eat in the restaurant. The state Alcohol Beverage Control office approved the temporary change, but it includes all the conditions , plus another 22 conditions that Stormoen described as “weird.”
Among them was one that barred happy hours, while another prevented the restaurant from selling pitchers of beer.
“We are in negotiations with ABC to have these conditions lifted,” Stormoen said.
Since the owners began working to transform an old tavern and laundromat into Nicky Rottens, a small, but vocal group of residents have complained that the restaurant would harm the neighborhood.
Councilwoman Carrie Downey, who has consistently supported the owners' efforts to make Nicky Rottens a family restaurant, said at a past meeting that she has received more mail over the eatery “than any other issue,” even the long-dead plan to build a tunnel from San Diego to Coronado.
“We could only take this so long,” Stormoen said. “We just want to be treated the same as everyone else.”