The Real Deal Miami

Melo sues to evict Sushi Samba, Duck & Waffle from Miami River site

Lawsuit alleges restaurants' owner failed to make rent payments for the first six months of 2017

A rendering of Sushi Samba and the Melo Group’s Carlos, Martin and Jose Melo

Plans for two new Miami River restaurants on a site owned by the Melo Group appear to have gone awry.

Melo holding company River Plaza II Corp filed an eviction lawsuit in early June against Flagler On The River LLC, an affiliate of New York-based Orange Brand Management, which owns both Sushi Samba and Duck & Waffle.

At stake is a 15-year lease that begins at $700,000 for the first year and increases annually to more than $1 million by the 15th year, according to a term sheet attached to the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Melo and attorney Jonathan Weiss both declined to comment. Representatives for Orange Brand could not be reached for comment.

According to the lease agreement signed in November 2014 that was also attached to the lawsuit, Orange Brands agreed to start paying rent on Jan. 7, eight months after construction began on a new four-story building at 20 Southwest North River Drive. The property is next to Melo’s Flagler on the River apartment complex.

Construction of the Miami River restaurant building was briefly halted by the city of Miami last year after inspection site visits confirmed inconsistencies in the approved plans and what was being constructed on the site. Work resumed in late January after architect Arturo Griego tweaked the building’s design in order to comply with the approved plans.

The lawsuit alleges Orange Brands failed to make rent payments for the first six months of 2017. In addition to the missed rent payments totalling $335,284, Melo is also seeking damages for $3 million in construction costs and the balance of the rent due for the rest of the year.

As part of the lease agreement, Orange Brands had to put up a $500,000 security deposit and place another $500,000 in an escrow account.