Sunday, October 04, 2009

What Happened to Legal Seafoods at Reagan National Airport?

When I went to pick up my sister-in-law the other day, I was surprised to see that my favorite restaurant at Reagan National Airport, Boston's Legal Seafoods, had closed. It was always busy, and I know that someone I know and myself would book flights at the airport in order to be able to eat lunch or dinner there, so it couldn't have been a business decision by the owners. A quick google search turned up the explanation--the landlords forced out Legal Seafoods, replacing it with something called "Sam and Harry's Steakhouse." Owner Roger Berkowitz didn't want to close, it turns out--so Legal Seafoods is now suing the people who operate concessions at Reagan National.

You can read the whole story in an article from the DC Examiner, based on this Legal Seafoods press release:
"Legal's is a highly successful owner-operated restaurant at National Airport," Berkowitz added. "We have 5 restaurants in the DC area and we are very committed to staying and expanding at National. Despite challenging economic conditions including more dining options at National and a decrease in enplanements, we agreed to invest in the restaurant with a renovation and expansion plan. "

Legal Sea Foods filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia this week to force MWAA to reconduct the leasing process in an open and transparent way as is required by federal law. In the complaint Legal Sea Foods believes that in awarding the lease for the space to another concession MWAA did not conduct an open and transparent process and thus violated the law.

"Something smells fishy and we are going to fight to get to the bottom of it," Berkowitz said.

"We are one of the top revenue generators at the airport and we want to stay. It simply makes no sense to replace a long term tenant like Legal Sea Foods and our track record of success with a concession that has no history at National Airport. We believe the process was unfair and probably illegal and we have filed suit to stay and keep over 50 jobs we have at the airport restaurant," said Berkowitz.
UPDATE: The Washington Post covered this dispute in an August 4th, 2009 story.