D/FW Airport Board Votes to Terminate Gilbert Aranza's Leases, But He Assures Employees That He's Just "Doing What Is Right"
After a lengthy closed-door meeting, the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport board voted 7-1 early this afternoon to terminate four leases related to businesses owned by concessionaire Gilbert Aranza, whose request for a temporary restraining order was granted yesterday at 5:07 p.m. by State District Judge Martin Hoffman.
The board claims Aranza owes approximately $279,000 in back rent from 2004 because he failed to report mixed-beverage taxes when calculating gross revenue, which is used to determine monthly rent payments. Aranza argues that the board never intended for any of the vendors to include the state's 14 percent mixed-beverage tax when determining gross sales.
As we reported last night, Aranza asked the court to stop the board from doing exactly what it voted to do -- terminating the leases under which he operates six restaurants that serve alcohol at DFW: Cool River, Cantina Laredo and Champps in Terminal D; the Cowtown Bar in Terminal A; and two locations of Skybox Sports bar -- one in Terminal A and one in Terminal C.
However, while Hoffman's order prohibits the board from actually terminating the leases, it didn't stop it from voting to do so.
"Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that defendant DFW International Airport Board be enjoined from terminating Plantiff's concessionaire leases pending the outcome of a temporary injunction in the Board's favor. This order does not prohibit the Board of Directors from voting to authorize the termination if the Court allows," Hoffman wrote in the order, which we've provided after the jump.
In case you missed the update to yesterday's story, there's a hearing scheduled for November 15 at 9:30 a.m. to determine whether the TRO should become a temporary injunction pending a full trial on the matter.
Below, you'll find the legal docs we promised yesterday -- the TRO request and the lawsuit asking for the court to determine that the issue is a big misunderstanding, Aranza shouldn't have to pay and the contracts should be amended so he doesn't have to pay rent on mixed-beverage taxes that are paid directly to the state comptroller. You'll also find an internal memo from Aranza sent to his employees before today's vote in which he assures them that he's got the dough set aside to pay the 279 grand if need be, but in the meantime, he's hoping to "successfully challenge the airport's actions."
"We are doing what is right," Aranza wrote, stressing that he expects to resolve the issue with "as little interference in our daily operations as possible." Aranza TRO Application 11-03-10 Aranza TRO Application Appendix 11-03-10 Aranza Agreed Order Granting TRO 11-3-10 Aranza D/FW Board Lawsuit 11-03-10 Aranza Memo to Employees 11-4-10