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Downtown Rochester restaurant files lawsuit against city, DMC

Jerk King claims actions by city and DMC Corp. damaged its ability to operate in downtown Rochester.

Jerk King 2
Jerk King, a closed restaurant in Rochester's Peace Plaza, has filed a lawsuit against the city and Destination Medical Center Corp. (Randy Petersen/Post Bulletin)
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A Peace Plaza restaurant has filed a lawsuit, citing losses during renovations of the downtown space.

The Toronto-based Jerk King restaurant alleges actions by the city and Destination Medical Center Corp. intentionally interfered with the business’ ability to operate.

“Defendants have deliberately and intentionally interfered with Plaintiff’s reasonable expectation of economic advantage and benefit by preventing the public, by means of fences and other objects placed on the sidewalks adjacent to the restaurant, from entering Jerk King,” Rochester attorney William French wrote on behalf of the business in the complaint filed in district court. “The interference is of unknown duration and is apparently continuing indefinitely into the future, thus making it permanent.”

RELATED: Does Heart of the City upgrade meet community needs? DMC EDA is preparing to ask

The case was initially filed in district court, but Stephanie Angolkor of the Bloomington-based Iverson Reuvers law firm, who is representing the city and DMC Corp., successfully petitioned to have the case moved to federal court on Monday.

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The restaurant, which offered Caribbean cuisine, opened at the end of 2019, months before restaurants were closed for in-person dining, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the same time, the city started work on renovating Peace Plaza, which was largely funded through state DMC funds.

DMC Corp. is a nonprofit corporation created by state legislation to provide oversight of the initiative, which proposed the public upgrades in the Heart of the City subdistrict, which are expected to be largely completed this month.

When work was being planned, the city, along with the DMC Economic Development Agency, established a Business Forward program, aimed to work with affected businesses to keep their doors open.

The Jerk King lawsuit alleges the effort failed and work on Peace Plaza ended up placing fences and other barriers on sidewalks, blocking the business’ door, without offering mitigation.

The lawsuit claims that the city and DMC. Corp. appeared “intent on driving it, and other small businesses, from the central core of the City of Rochester.”

Jerk King, which is closed with signs stating “until further notice,” is seeking at least $200,000 in damages, along with the potential for unspecified additional relief.

The city and DMC Corp. have not responsed to the lawsuit. They have 21 days to reply to the complaint, which French reports he delivered to the Rochester City Clerk on Nov. 8.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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