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Lawsuit seeks to shutter Lemon Grove

Published: Wed, September 5, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Jamison Cocklin



The Lemon Grove and its owner, Jacob Harver, are facing a second civil lawsuit.

The latest, filed Aug. 30, alleges that the business no longer has the means to carry on with operations and requests the aid of the court in dissolving it.

George Nakley of Lowellville, identified in court documents as a shareholder, seeks to dissolve the business by asking the court to appoint a third-party trustee to oversee The Lemon Grove’s breakup and allocate whatever assets remain afterward.

The lawsuit is the second filed against the downtown cafe in less than a week. A lawsuit filed Aug. 28 in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court claims Harver breached his contract with landlord SKA Limited and violated the terms of his lease by removing six sinks, outdoor fencing and a kitchen exhaust hood at The Lemon Grove’s former location at 122 W. Federal St.

In July, The Lemon Grove moved from that location two doors east to 110 W. Federal St., a much larger space, formerly occupied by the Rosetta Stone Cafe and Wine bar.

In addition to the more than $20,000 in compensation being sought by SKA, Harver will now have to deal separately with Nakley, who is essentially seeking to shut down the business and recover his investment.

Reached on Tuesday, Harver declined to comment on the new lawsuit because he was not familiar with its details. But he did say the restaurant is solvent and on stable financial ground.

“We’re on a tight week-to-week budget, but we’re able to keep doing this and keep things going,” Harver said. “It’s not as if we’re sitting on a huge nest egg, but we’re doing good.”

Neither Nakley nor his attorney could be reached for further comment Tuesday.

As with other downtown businesses, Harver first received community block grants to move into 122 W. Federal St. in 2009. As late as 2011, he admitted the restaurant was having difficulties balancing its bottom line, paying $1,200 a month in overdraft fees.

The Lemon Grove “broke the first rule of business: We had no working capital,” Harver told The Vindicator in April.

Then in July, Harver, along with business partner George Lenahan, finalized the $400,000 purchase at 110 W. Federal St., a feat Harver acknowledges would not have been possible without Lenahan’s backing.

Today, Harver is a 50 percent owner of the new building and he says mortgage payments are the same as they were in the old building at $3,000 per month. He acknowledged, however, that insurance and utility payments are much higher.

Nakley claims in his complaint with the court, however, that “it is not reasonably practicable to carry on the business of The Lemon Grove LLC.”

Harver has not yet obtained an attorney for either lawsuit, and it remains unclear what stake Nakley holds in the company.


1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Don't worry Jake. Comrade Hagen will come to the rescue and millions of 99 percent-ers will descend from heaven to block the evil 1 percent.

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2georgejeanie(1488 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

What did I tell you folks in Youngstown? The taxpayer left holding the bag again, bet on it. keep voting that dumbocratic straight ticket and these thieves will keep giving these idiotic loans to people who have no clue what it takes to run a business without being subsidized by other peoples taxes. What private enterprise is left in downtown Youngstown, if it was not for the government employees tripping over each other there would be no downtown left.

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3Westsider(269 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

The Grove's bigger problem is poor service - and that is the first rule of business success. The LG caters to young professionals and the college crowd - but their loyalty is fickle as other places open in the downtown and YSU campus area. Rather than sue - Nakley needs to pitch in for a return on his investment - Harver should be cooking and waiting on tables to show the customers he is committed to the success of the business. It is not unusual for businesses to begin and grow by just making ends meet. There needs to be a solution other than trying to shuttter the Lemon Grove.

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4candystriper(575 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

No collateral needed with Hagan and Ryan...

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5iuz22000(9 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

The service there is subpar. I was in there a few weeks ago in the middle of the week and it was hardly full. Our party waited 45 minutes for some simple food orders and our waiter seemed more interested in talking to others. I don't think Harver seems to realize you have to work to be successful in business. A bar/restaurant owner shouldn't have Friday as his scheduled day off or that day where he sits and gets drunk at the end of the bar trying to impress chicks. The work ethic there needs to be addressed promptly. I think we have another Pregibon on our hands with Harver spewing forth how great the Grove has done when in reality he is just rotating money and really isn't doing as well as claimed. Pregibon was great at that and look how he wound up,...........flat broke with a few houses being taken back by the bank.

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6imfromeverywhereman(1 comment)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

First of all, they're all shady. Harver, Nakely, and especially that washed up artist (Van Hoose) that always hangs out downtown are only ever interested in what will immediately benefit them without caring who they screw in the process. Often, in Harver's case that is literal. I know them all personally, so I am confident that the things I'm saying are true. I honestly don't care what happens to Jacob or the Lemon Grove. Closing the old one was an end of an era and it's possible that Youngstown is ready to move on.

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7bmanresident(607 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I've been bashing that Place as long as I have been posting on here. I saw this coming a long time ago. Hagan cant do a thing if the investors back out. Harver is sunk!!!!

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8valleyred(1103 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I can assure you, the airport is in better shape now than it has been in years, perhaps in over a decade.

And this idea that if you are a conservative you can't support an Airport is absurd. The government's two jobs, in my eyes, should be to provide defense and to build an infrastructure. Airport = Infrastructure and our Airport, like just about every Airport = JOBS!

You would be surprised how many conservatives are supporters of this Airport in our YNGAir Partners initiative... more than you would think ZZ3.

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9cmrosko(19 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I suspect that many of these folks who are so quick to trash this small business start up / expansion with growing pains have a downer chip on their shoulder which leads mostly in a negative direction. AKA downers. $20,000 grand for six sinks, a small bit of fencing and a stove hood sounds pretty excessive which leads me to suspect the credibility of the claimant.

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10MrYikes(14 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

In most cities this wouldn't even make the news. Props to all of you "conservatives" for bashing one of the few young people in the Mahoning Valley with even the slightest bit of entrepreneurial spirit.

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