Butler University sues Metro Diner over campus restaurant closure

Butler University has filed suit against Tampa, Florida-based Metro Diner over the restaurant chain’s abrupt closure of its on-campus restaurant earlier this year.

The restaurant, which opened in 2017 at 4702 Sunset Ave. in a building that also houses a parking garage, closed in March.

Butler filed its complaint in Marion Superior Court Thursday against Metro Diner LLC and affiliated entities MD Midwest LLC and MD Original LLC.

According to the lawsuit, the original lease began in January 2017 and was to run through January 2028. Metro was expected to pay monthly rent of $8,195 for the first five years of the lease, $8,996 per month in the next five years, and $9,877 per month in the final year.

In July 2018, the parties agreed to amend the lease to abate and modify Metro Diner’s rent payments through May 15 of this year.

On March 5, the restaurant company notified Butler that it had ceased operations at the on-campus restaurant two days earlier. In its complaint, Butler says that Metro Diner violated its lease by failing to give at least 30 days of notice of its intent to close the restaurant.

“Having Metro Diner come in during the middle of the night and remove their sign and shut their doors was extremely disappointing to the Butler community,” the university said in an email to IBJ. “Butler had a clear written lease agreement with Metro, which Butler believes they breached. We are asking the court to remedy this unfortunate situation.”

Butler also says its lease with Metro Diner is still in effect, meaning that the restaurant still has an obligation to continue paying rent—which the restaurant has not done.

“Butler believes that there was a breach of the agreement,” said Indianapolis attorney Steven Lutz of Church Church Hittle + Antrim, who is representing Butler in the case.

The university is asking the court to find Metro Diner in default of its lease and to pay damages, interest, costs and other expenses. It does not name a specific amount.

Court records do not yet indicate who will provide legal counsel for Metro Diner.

IBJ left a phone message for Metro Diner late Friday morning but did not receive an immediate response.

Metro Diner has four other Indianapolis-area locations that remain open: 3954 E. 82nd St. in the Clearwater Crossing shopping center; 2258 W. 86th St.; 7225 U.S. 31 on the south side of Indianapolis; and 302 N. Dan Jones Road in Plainfield. The chain has more than 70 locations overall in 14 states, including 30 Florida locations.

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