An ongoing dispute between an event venue and a popular barbecue restaurant on Freedom Drive continued Wednesday after the event venue announced it would be closing its doors.
Good Life at Enderly Park announced they would close due to “recent disputes with [their] neighbors and landlord.” These disputes stem from confusion over parking starting back in March 2022.
Good Life owner Robbie McNair Guzman says she’s been hit with bad press, lawsuits, and even a criminal charge since the parking debate started with her neighbor, Noble Smoke.
In March, Guzman says she was contacted regarding complaints over her customer’s parking in the lot directly behind Noble Smoke. Guzman said she had the impression that the lot was shared with her business.
“I just feel like I am being bullied. I feel like there’s an abuse of power going on here. I’ve been criminalized, and we literally were just using the parking lot that it was always mutually understood to be shared,” she said.
In March, Guzman said she received a letter from her landlord, Matt Browder, stating, “It is the landlord’s position that all the parking on both parcels that we own on Freedom should be treated as common area parking, regardless of what any individual lease says.”
However, Browder told Queen City News that allowing her customers to park on Noble Smoke’s property was a courtesy and not a right afforded to her by her lease.
Since the back-and-forth, which included the owner of Noble Smoke temporarily putting up towing signs in his parking lot, Guzman said she’d lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in business. Now, she says she is unable to afford rent.
“In April, we had an immediate decline in business because of all of this press. 60 percent. We have lost over $240,000 in revenue,” she said.
Browder told Queen City News that they did not charge Guzman rent from March 2020 until May 2021 due to the pandemic. Then, he says she only made her pay 37 percent of her contract rent from June 2021 to through December 2021. Starting in January 2022, he says they allowed her to pay only 50 percent of her contracted rent, but in June 2022, they requested she starts paying the full rent amount. In a letter sent to Guzman, Browder claims his company has lost $240,000 in rent forgiveness to her business.
According to Browder, Guzman did not pay the full rent amount in June 2022 and asked for a continuance of the modified rent. Browder says his team and Guzman came to an agreement in which she could pay $42,000 in back rent for the months she did not pay (June-September) and then pay $14,000 per month for the rest of the year, at which time they would let her out of her lease early. Browder says although this agreement was Guzman’s idea, she did not sign the agreement. Browder ended up filing for eviction.
“Mentally, this has just been too much. It’s too much. I’m overwhelmed,” said Guzman. “Our business isn’t over, but we are transitioning out of this space. But we don’t want to be here. We don’t want to be where we’re not wanted.”
At the height of the parking debate, Charlotte Pastor Penny Maxwell posted a video on Instagram, calling out Guzman and defending Noble Smoke and its owner Jim Noble. Guzman commented on this video, accusing Maxwell of communicating threats against her and asking, “do you want to have a shootout?”
Guzman told Queen City News she was being facetious, but Maxwell pressed charges, and Guzman was arrested for communicating threats. Guzman says her court date is in November.