Saratoga County

Sonic hits Clifton Park building owners with counter lawsuit

Drive-in restaurant chain seeks enforcement of lease agreement

CLIFTON PARK — After being sued by the owner of space targeted for a new Sonic drive-in restaurant, the fast-food chain has filed a lawsuit of its own, claiming the property owners violated a lease agreement.

In December, DCG Development, the Clifton Park-based owner of Town Plaza on Route 146, filed a lawsuit in the Saratoga County Clerk’s Office that claimed Sonic franchisee Fast Eats Clifton Park and its owner, Gene Nachamkin, failed to design and install improvements needed before the restaurant could open, including an underground stormwater management system.

According to DCG, the system was never designed, despite numerous attempts to contact Sonic.

Sonic’s failure to build the system was a direct violation of its lease agreement with DCG, said Paul Goldman, the property owner’s lawyer, in the lawsuit. 

DCG’s lawsuit seeks to retain the first few months of Sonic’s rent for the space, as well as the chain’s security deposit, which amounts to $21,333.32

Sonic has contested all claims made in the DCG suit and argued that DCG, according to the lease agreement, was supposed to design and pay for the stormwater improvements.

The fast food company claims DCG promised from the start to conduct all necessary work on the property. 
Sonic’s suit goes on to say DCG retained an architect to design the stormwater management system. When DCG was informed of the costs to build the system, about two months after the lease was signed in April, the company allegedly demanded Sonic pay for it.
Sonic also denied a stormwater management system was necessary for the restaurant. 

In a prepared statement, Sonic’s lawyer, Adam Cooper, said DCG’s decision to sue the chain was “unfortunate,” and was a clear attempt to avoid fulfilling responsibilities laid out in the lease agreement. 

“This is a unique rental property in the Clifton Park area where my client is eager to open their next Sonic restaurant,” Cooper said, in the prepared statement. “We have served our answer to the baseless claims and have filed a counter-suit to enforce the terms of the lease and gain back all of the damages incurred as a result of this breach. We are confident that once all the facts are known and considered, it will be clear to all that my client has honored this agreement.”

Sonic’s lawsuit claims DCG is responsible for the delay in the restaurant’s opening and for damaging the chain’s reputation in the community.
Sonic is seeking the complete dismissal of DCG’s lawsuit. Sonic also demands DCG uphold the terms of the lease, pay for the stormwater management system and allow Sonic to operate at the site.

Sonic is also seeking the return of its security deposit for the space, payment for all legal fees incurred and payment for any loss in profit the restaurant has sustained from the delay. 
Sonic announced the plan to open the Clifton Park location in May, and the Clifton Park Planning Board granted the project final approval in June, after a lengthy review process. 
The drive-in chain was aiming for a fall opening for the 3,700-square-foot restaurant. 
Had it met its opening goal, the Clifton Park location would have been the third of its kind in the Capital Region.
After its site plans were approved, however, progress seemed to stop. 
A sign touting the restaurant’s imminent arrival was removed from the plaza, and the company failed to apply for a building permit from the town of Clifton Park to start construction. 

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