The owner of the courthouse restaurant has filed suit against Jefferson County, alleging the restaurant lost nearly $40,000 after the county reneged on its promise to use the restaurant's food during hurricane evacuation.

Mary Gardiner-Andrews, who owns Another Level Eatery in the Jefferson County Courthouse, claims she was contacted by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office about providing emergency food to workers during Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav clean-up and evacuation, according to the complaint filed Nov. 3 in Jefferson County District Court.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Zina Stephens took the keys to the restaurant and asked that the staff of Another Level Eatery stay behind to help feed people, the suit states.

But the county did not use the restaurant and instead went to another restaurant, Gardiner-Andrews claims.

In addition, "the county failed to secure the inventory and facility in the wake of the evacuation," the suit states.

Gardiner-Andrews was not informed of the changed plans until after $3,000 worth of her food inventory was spoiled, according to the complaint.

She also claims she has not been able to pay her employees for staying behind and has been unable to reopen.

Gardiner-Andrews "has currently lost more than $39,000 in income," the suit states.

She is suing Jefferson County for detrimental reliance, breach of an oral contract, negligence and misrepresentation.

Gardiner-Andrews is seeking unspecified actual and consequential damages, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

John S. Morgan of Lindsay and Morgan in Beaumont will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Case No. B182-654

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