Sports bar Bru’s Room wins $6M judgment against former landlord

Miami-Dade judge found Westchester shopping center owner guilty of intentional misconduct

Shuttered Bru’s Room at 8358 Southwest 40th Street
Shuttered Bru’s Room at 8358 Southwest 40th Street (Google Maps, Getty)

A South Florida sports bar won a $6.1 million judgment against its former landlord at a Miami-Dade County shopping center.

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Charles Johnson ruled last week that Bru’s Room Sports Grill was wrongfully evicted from 84 Shopping Plaza at 8358 Southwest 40th Street in the unincorporated Miami-Dade neighborhood of Westchester

The shopping center’s ownership entity, managed by Daniel Arias, Maria Arias and Valeria Arias-Ferro in Miami, engaged in “intentional misconduct” in attempting to kick out Bru’s Room after filing an eviction lawsuit in 2014, Johnson’s order states. The judgment is also against Daniel Arias individually. 

Eileen Chafetz, the Arias’ lawyer, declined comment. Bru’s Room’s attorney Michael Kreitzer said his client is pleased with the judge’s final ruling.

“There were a lot of unusual twists and turns that brought us to this point,” Kreitzer said. “The judge ruled there was fraud on the part of the landlord, and invalidated the entire lease.” 

Johnson awarded Bru’s Room $3.7 million in economic damages, $1.9 million in prejudgment interest and $500,000 in punitive damages. 

The seven-year legal tussle ended after a six-month bench trial. Bru’s Room, a Coconut Creek-based company founded by former Miami Dolphins player Bob Brudzinski, ceased operations at 84 Shopping Plaza in late 2020, after briefly reopening after Covid-19 restaurant restrictions were lifted. There are six other Bru’s Room locations in South Florida.

During the trial, Bru’s Room offered proof of lost profits between January 2014 through February 2020 resulting from 84 Shopping Plaza’s actions against its former tenant, Johnson’s order states. The judge also found that the shopping center and Daniel Arias “fraudulently induced Bru’s Room to enter into the lease…and that it would be inequitable for 84 Shopping Plaza to enjoy any benefits naturally flowing from its fraudulent conduct.”

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Johnson determined that 84 Shopping Plaza is not entitled to any unpaid rent from 2020 through the end of last month, when Bru’s Room lease would have expired. 

In counterclaim filings, Bru’s Room alleged that when the chain signed its lease in 2013, Daniel Arias claimed 84 Shopping Plaza had enough parking spaces to accommodate a 300-seat restaurant. But, in fact, the lot did not have enough spaces. Daniel Arias provided incorrect data to Bru’s Room about the sizes and uses of other tenants to make it appear the shopping center had a surplus of parking, rather than a deficit, the court documents claim. 

Bru’s Room used Arias’ parking data for its building permit, but had to stop construction when Miami-Dade County building officials learned that the parking information was inaccurate, the filings show. By then, his client had spent $1 million on the build-out of the restaurant, Kreitzer said. 

As a result, Bru’s Room had to undergo an expensive process and delays to obtain a county parking variance. The sports bar opened in 2016, three years after Bru’s Room signed its lease. 

“Obtaining that variance almost took a year and a half,” Kreitzer said. “We had to obtain the variance because the landlord defrauded us.” 

During the discovery process, Bru’s Room uncovered evidence that Daniel Arias had tenants that had not obtained certificates of occupancy and were operating illegally, including a church, a bingo hall and two gyms, Kreitzer said. 

“The landlord knew about all this and kept it all a secret,” Kreitzer said. “It was only after litigation ensued that we found out that the landlord was engaged in this activity.” 

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