Tired of continuous roof leaks, Bedford sandwich shop owners sue landlord

Friends and business partners Terry Duncan and Jonathan Merrill put everything they had into opening the Colossal Sandwich shop.

However, they said they have struggled to stay in business because their landlord misrepresented the condition of the building where they signed a lease last November.

Now, Duncan and Merrill say they’ve exhausted their options and are suing their landlord Sami Ebrahim of D.F.W. Distributor Petroleum, Inc., who owns the small building at 1301 Brown Trail in Bedford.

“It’s the most frustrating thing in the world,” Merrill said.

“We got off to a good start with the exception of the one thing we couldn’t control, the building,” he said.

When reached for comment, Ebrahim told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “I am out of the country right now, and I can’t talk.”

The suit was filed last week in Dallas County.

The suit alleges that the landlord violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act, and also is in violation of the terms of the lease for failing to disclose problems when the sandwich shop owners agreed to lease the space.

The suit also accuses him of hiring unqualified contractors who made shoddy repairs to the roof and the building, resulting in repeated health and safety violations when water from the leaking roof extinguished the water heater pilot light and ruined the air conditioning and refrigerator.

Acording to the lawsuit, Merrill and Duncan were promised a “turn key” operation when they signed their lease.

In June, the city of Bedford and the Tarrant County Health Department ordered the restaurant to close until the necessary repairs were made, and on July 3, the shop reopened.

But more problems arose on July 6 when it rained, and water poured into the building, according to court documents.

The last straw came on Oct. 10 when another storm hit and water came into the kitchen, although the landlord assured his tenants that the roof was fixed.

Duncan and Merrill said all they want is to cook up good food and make their customers happy.

They are seeking damages of over $200,000 but not to exceed $1 million.

“We’re going to keep fighting, whatever it takes,” Merrill said.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.