HOUSTON - Turkey Leg Hut is firing back after a lawsuit was filed against the popular restaurant in Houston’s Third Ward this week.
The lawsuit filed by neighbors claims the smoke coming from the restaurant on Almeda Street is a health hazard, and the outdoor cooking area is illegal.
At a press conference on Friday, the restaurant owner and attorney for Turkey Leg Hut said those allegations are false.
“It’s filled with fake news,” said attorney Jeremy Pickney of the plaintiff’s press release that hit the news Wednesday. “We’re not doing anything illegally.”
“Contrary to what the plaintiffs are saying, the Turkey Leg Hut currently has all of the permitting that we need to operate,” said Nakia Price, the restaurant’s owner.
Neighbors suing Turkey Leg Hut claim the smoke from its cookers is noticeable up to two blocks away is causing shortness of breath, and is even staining the sides of the building.
Price said she has already taken action on a plan to resolve the smoke issue after getting a handful of complaints earlier this year.
“On September 25, 2019, we received approval from a permit for the construction of a ventilated fully enclosed smoke pit area to resolve the problem,” said Price.
The smoke pit area has not yet been built two months later.
“You can’t just build whatever apparatus you want on your property,” said Pickney. “You have to go through proper permitting processes.”
Price said she and her attorney were blindsided this week with a call from the plaintiff’s attorney about the plan to seek a temporary restraining order against Turkey Leg Hut—something that could have dismantled their Thanksgiving plans.
“We will be handing out three-thousand free turkey legs to Houston kids and adults for Thanksgiving,” said Price. “The plaintiffs in this suit tried to stop us from providing free food to families right before the holiday.”
The plaintiffs did not succeed in a complete shutdown of outdoor smoker use but did succeed in getting a temporary restraining order that limited outdoor smoker activity from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.
The complete shutdown would have put the restaurant’s employees out of work right before the holiday.
“We are grateful the plaintiffs failed,” said Price.
Mike Prince from Rap A Lot Records sat in on the press conference.
“It’s bigger than just the food,” said Prince, who frequents the restaurant. “If it was a business that I felt was a selfish business and wanted just for self, then I probably would have a different outlook, but then I do see the many things they do throughout the community...feeding the homeless to going into the schools to just giving back to just creating jobs.”
As for the restaurant’s numerous health code violations this year, Pickney said those issues have been resolved.
“We have no open violations right now,” said Pickney.
Both parties head to court December 6, as the plaintiffs continue to seek out a full shutdown of all outdoor smoker activity.