Owner of shuttered pizzeria sought $800,000
A lawsuit filed in September by the owner of the shuttered Nonna’s Pizza Express in Nelsonville against his landlord and Homestyle Creamery has been dropped.
A “stipulation of discontinuance” signed by Nonna’s attorney, Andrea Catalina, was filed in state court in Carmel on Monday (Nov. 28). Laura Timmons, who owns Homestyle, said her attorney told her Nonna’s had dropped the case.
Michael Kabashi, who owns the pizzeria, sued Timmons, along with Renate and Richard Frost, who own the building at 349 Main St. that Homestyle shared with Nonna’s, asking for more than $800,000 in damages. The lawsuit escalated a conflict that became public in August when a message appeared on Nonna’s Facebook page filled with wild accusations against the Frosts and Timmons.
“I’m just happy that it’s over because they had no case,” said Timmons on Wednesday (Nov. 30). “It affected me a lot. I live here and my kids go to school here. We don’t just have a business here, we care about the community.”
Kabashi filed the lawsuit on Sept. 22, alleging that Timmons “hired” a friend, Gjevat Kastrati, to attack him, and that the Homestyle owner “generated” complaints that led to an unannounced inspection of his restaurant by the Putnam County Health Department.
The lawsuit, filed by former Peekskill mayor and attorney Frank Catalina, also claimed Kabashi was accused of “being a member of the mafia,” not paying his taxes and “otherwise engaging in criminal conduct.” Further, it said, Homestyle customers used tables and chairs that belonged to Nonna’s.
The Frosts, for their part, “failed, refused and neglected to intervene” and, with Timmons, “engaged in a pattern of conduct designed to damage the plaintiff’s business and reputation,” according to the lawsuit.
Kabashi asked the court to void a 10-year lease he signed in May and order the Frosts to return a $3,200 security deposit and $19,200 in rent payments, plus more than $150,000 he says he spent to open the restaurant, including $35,000 used to purchase appliances and equipment that was already in the space.
He was also seeking compensation from Timmons — $250,000 in damages for the alleged assault, $90,000 for the alleged false reports to the Health Department, $200,000 for a harassment charge he says was filed against him — and $120,000 in legal fees.
In their initial response to the lawsuit, the Frosts accused Kabashi of making claims that were “knowingly false” and “attempting to use the courts to strong-arm and intimidate” them. They in turn sought a dismissal of the lawsuit and $1 million in damages.
Timmons said she was also preparing to sue Kabashi for defamation. “You play dirty like that, it just hurts you in the end,” she said. “To this day, I don’t know what their problem was.”
Frank Catalina did not respond to a request for comment.