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Downtown restaurant to close after legal fight

Springfield’s Bistro To Go welcomes customers today, plans sale this weekend.

A downtown restaurant will close today after a legal dispute that stretched through most of this year.

Bistro To Go, a restaurant at 22 N, Limestone St., will serve customers today for the last time. The business will be closed Friday and will host a clearance sale from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Customers are being encouraged to wear a Halloween costume to the business’ last lunch today.

Michelle MacDonald, who owned the business, said she wanted to remain open but decided to close instead of fighting a lengthy legal battle with the owners of the property. Court records show both sides have spent most of this year fighting over rent and other issues.

“It’s been one legal mess after another,” MacDonald said.

Information from Clark County Municipal Court shows MacDonald and Episcopal Retirement Homes Affordable Living, LLC, have argued in court. Records show the property’s owners filed a complaint in January arguing MacDonald owed more than $5,000 in rent and fees, and that she had been asked to leave the property but refused. A notice attached to the company’s complaint also alleges she changed the locks at the property without permission and refused to provide a duplicate to the owners.

But MacDonald argued the building did not meet health code requirements from the beginning. She said in court records that the owners had agreed to provide her with a credit to her rent as she spent her own money to get the property up to code.

Robert Ross, MacDonald’s atttorney, said he believes MacDonald had a valid case. But she decided to reach an agreement with the owners rather than drag the case out. Attorneys for Episcopal Retirement Homes did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

“She didn’t want a long, protracted legal battle,” Ross said.

An agreement filed last month allowed Episcopal Retirement Homes to keep the property and ordered MacDonald to leave the property by Nov. 9. It also allowed the owners to keep MacDonald’s intial security deposit and each side to pay their respective attorney’s fees.

MacDonald said she appreciated the support she has received by her customers and area business owners while the business was open.

“I don’t think I could have been more supported by downtown than what I was,” she said.

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