Food News

The Fight Over Avila's Results in Lawsuits, a Gutted Restaurant and a Sad Family Feud

I've been trying to keep up with the dramatic doings at Avila's on Maple Avenue via SideDish for the past week, which hasn't been easy -- especially following today's item concerning the beloved restaurant's shuttering as family friends and members and other concerned parties weigh in with conflicting accounts. And so I drove down the street to one of Unfair Park's favorite eateries to see what's what. In short: It's as though someone dipped their Shakespeare in a bucket of mole.

As family members argue over who owns the restaurant and who should run the restaurant and who made the restaurant the success it is today, this much and only this much is certain: Late Sunday night, Ricardo Avila -- who has been more or less the face of his family's 25-year-old restaurant for years -- went in and gutted the place, going so far as to cut a hole in the wall where the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives plaque had been hung following the restaurant's appearance on the Food Network show. Yet, despite the note on the Web site ("Sorry for the Inconvenience We Are Expanding to a NEW Location with a GREAT Patio and Lots of Parking"), Octavio Avila, Ricardo's brother, tells Unfair Park it will reopen "in three, four weeks." There's a note posted on the window saying it's closed for remodeling. It's signed by 88-year-old Anita Avila, who opened the restaurant with her husband in January 1986 and whose sons and daughters and granddaughters are now fighting over the place.

Meanwhile, a fellow restaurateur says Ricardo is planning on opening a new place "within 45 days" just down the street on Maple, beneath the Dallas North Tollway.

There was a court hearing scheduled for today, following Ricardo's filing a restraining order on February 9. That hearing was canceled Monday, but Octavio and other family members say another suit's on the way: Anita is suing Ricardo "for defamation," says Octavio, who insists he's "heartbroken" over the events. "But I still love my brother very much," he says. Those papers, I was told, are being filed at this very moment.

At the moment, this has become very much a he said-she said tale pitting family members against one another; friends too have been asked to take sides, and stories offered by fellow restaurateurs conflict wildly. Octavio says Ricardo took control of the restaurant, put everything in his name, wouldn't allow family in and had allowed the quality of the service and food to decline in recent months. Ricardo's allies insists he alone made the place the success it's become and that other family members who never wanted anything to do with the place stepped in after business went boom following Guy Fieri's visit.

After the jump, you will find the counter-claim filed by Anita's attorneys against Ricardo last week. It provides just a small taste of what a mess this has become.

Counter Claim DC10 01484 D

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky