LIVE UPDATES: Double D's, Toys R Us hearing continues - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

LIVE UPDATES: Double D's, Toys R Us hearing continues

TYLE, TX (KLTV) - The Double D Ranch, Toys R Us saga continues in a Tyler courtroom today.

During a hearing last week the restraining order to keep Double D's from operating in the Toys R Us shopping complex was extended. 

Double D Ranch and Toys Are Us will be in a Tyler court courtroom again today, as they attempt to finally put their month long dispute to rest.

KLTV reporter Melanie Torre is in the courtroom we will bring you live updates as the proceeding get underway:

James Snell, real estate lawyer; educated as lawyer, UT law 1986, has been working with El Chico restaurants since 1990s.

Snell says he is responsible for 90 leases operated under Consolidated Restaurants Inc. Lease says they have to be a restaurant selling food and beverage. Snell says there are no lease violations. On page 39 of the lease it says "semi-nude."

He says without a definition for semi-nude defined in the lease, the state's definition would be used.

Snell says state defines nudity as showing genitals, buttocks, or the areola of a female breast. Semi-nude would be showing some of these parts.

He says in a letter from Toys R Us the restaurant is called indecent.

Snell says indecency is a criminal term, defined as exposing yourself or engaging in sexual conduct. Snell says that letter calls DD an adult-themed establishment, which is not true.

He also says the letter cites scantily-clad attire but the word scantily-clad is not included in the lease.

Snell says lease restrictions are made in favor of tenants and if it is not strictly outlined that the tenant cannot do something, then they can.

 DD representation asks, "What, if anything, allows Toys R Us to control concept?"

Snell: Nothing.

DD: What, if anything, allows Toys R Us to control waitstaff?

Snell: Nothing.

DD: What, if anything, allows Toys R Us to control design?

Snell: Nothing.

DD: What, if anything, allows Toys R Us to control theme?

Snell: Nothing.

DD: What, if anything, allows Toys R Us to control menu?

Snell: Nothing.

 Snell also says the words "symbiotic" and "family-oriented" are not included in the lease.

DD representation asks Snell what, if anything, the landlord has done to breach the terms of the contract.

Toys R Us attorney objects, citing the defendant is asking a witness to reach a legal conclusion, which is the judge's job.

Judge sustains objection.

Rocky Vanover, Vice President Facilities Construction Design Fixtures for Consolidated Restaurants, Inc., is on the stand.

(In this conversation Toys R Us is attorney Melissa Kingston. DD is witness Rocky Vanover VP of construction for Consolidated Restaurants.) 

Toys R Us rep: The defendants began alteration in mid June, is that right?

DD: Yes.

Toys R Us: Most of your modifications are completed at this time right?

DD: In the interior, yes.

Toys R Us: The defendant never had toys r us written consent to begin the modification, did they?

DD: No.

Toys R Us: Looking in exhibit 2, there is nothing that indicates the defendants plans from an

El Chico to a double d restaurant, correct?

DD: Yes

Toys R Us: You submitted an application for a permit to the city of Tyler on June 8, correct?

DD: Yes

Toys R Us: And you indicated on that permit you would operate as DD ranch grill and bar?

Toys R Us: You didn't have Toys R Us' consent when you applied for that permit did you?

DD: They didn't ask for consent.

Toys: So the answer to my question is no.

DD: Correct.

Toys R Us: The plans submitted to Toys R Us say El Chico 28. Those are the plans you submitted?

Dd: No.

Toys R Us: You didn't send these plans to Toys R Us?

Dd: Those are my plans but I didn't put El Chico on there.

Toys R Us: That wasn't my question.

Dd: Then what was your question?

Toys R Us: Were these the plans submitted to Toys R Us?

DD: Yes.

This document 5/23.. And does it not say these plans were printed on June 9?

Toys R Us: So the plans you sent were printed June 9 and that's the day you sent the request to Jennifer Sophia?

DD: Yes.

Toys R Us: And you sent that request to Toys R Us?

DD: Yes.

Toys: And you send that on the Consolidated Restaurants Letterhead?

DD: Yes.

Toys R Us: So El Chico never sent the request? This page indicates there is going to be a sign.

Toys R Us: You're not considering these plans a request to change the name are you?


Toys R Us: And these plans say signage TBD later.

DD:  Correct

Toys R Us: And you're not considering these plans an assignment to change the lease are you?

DD: No.

Toys R Us: So you did know when you submitted these plans that the el Chico was going to be a DD ranch?

DD: I can't answer yes or no.

Toys R Us: But in your request to the city you filed a permit for DD ranch.

DD: I had to explain to the city we knew we were going to change it but didn't know to what yet.

Toys R Us: But you started using the DD ranch immediately after tarring construction, correct?

DD: Yes.

Toys R Us: So when you submitted the plans to Toy R Us on June 9 you knew it's...

DD: I knew the building would be converted into something but there was a trademark issue and no telling what the building was going to be. There was a sense of urgency with it. All I deal with is getting it built.

Toys R Us: Looking at the dates on the invoices, some pre-date June 30. You never sought toys r us's consent to change the signage on the building did you?

DD: I don't do that, that's Real Estate's responsibility.

Toys R Us: In your permit to the city of Tyler you said the project would cost $100,000.

DD: The construction would cost 100,000.

Toys R Us:  That's not what it says.

DD: It's a construction permit. That's what it means.

Toys R Us: And how much has construction cost to date.

DD: About $100,000.

Toys R Us: Let's look at the plans you sent to the city of Tyler in order to get a building permit. What's the print date on those plans?

DD: June 2.

Toys R Us: So they predate the plans you submitted to toys r us by a week.

DD: Yes.

Toys R Us: The plans submitted to the city of Tyler have an  architect stamp on them and the plans submitted to toys r us do not. Is that because they were altered?

DD: Yes.

Toys R Us: Did you alter them?

DD: No. The architect did.

Toys R Us: Did you remove the Double D logo from the plans submitted  to the city of Tyler from the plans submitted to Toys R Us because you knew Toys R Us wouldn't allow Double D Ranch?

DD: Not really, no.

DD attorney shows Mr Vanover a copy of the plans sent to Toys R Us and the city of Tyler.

 Vanover says there was a trademark issue with the traditional DD ranch sign and pattern and they had to redesign the sign. " So when I sent the plans to Toys we didn't ask for sign consent because that's a real estate issue. I was asking for the right to remodel the store and make material alterations, like establish a patio on the building, which they agreed to do," says Vanover.

 Vanover says the sign at this location would be spelled out "Double D Ranch" not "DD Ranch"

"We believe we have [a sign] we can use but we're still working on it"

 Vanover says no deception was intended with the signage/name change. He says they were dealing with trademark issues.

Vanover says on the 13th Jennifer Sophia said she'd send consent.

On the 22nd/23rd Sophia called Vanover to make sure the patio was appropriate size. Vanover says she told him she was sending the plans into design but he was ok to proceed.

DD rep (Davis): Can you explain to the court why you'd never start construction without consent?

DD witness (Vanover): We rely on people's professionalism. I relied on Toys R Us's professionalism when they told us we could proceed... I'd have to be a complete fool to start something without consent. I've been doing this for too long.

Vanover says the sense of urgency to get [the project] started came from a provision in the lease that prohibits construction in October, November and December.

 "We have seven or eight different restaurant concepts. Sometimes I can't even keep track of them. We are not a cookie cutter restaurant company. We change, we change things, we may change this sign again," said Vanover

Pass the witness (still Vanover)

Kingston questioning.

Toys R Us: Were you at the site between June 28 and July 15?

DD: I don't know.. I was at the site on June 21st for sure. After that I turned it over to the in-house construction

Toys R Us: So you weren't at the store at all in July?

DD: I don't think so. I've been in Chicago working on two big projects.

Toys: So a moment ago I heard you say on June 21 you received a new sign design. And you talked to Mrs. Sophia and still didn't submit those plans?

DD: I handed them off to real estate and that is their job to submit those plans.

Toys attorney argues DD ranch seemed to have no problem using a "now hiring" banner with the DD logo regardless of trademark issues in July at the Tyler store.

Keep checking back to for the latest update on the court proceedings on Monday; proceedings will resume at 1:30p.m.

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