In a press conference on Friday, the owners of the popular Third Ward eatery the Turkey Leg Hut along with their counsel responded to a lawsuit levied against them by a few Third Ward residents claiming that the restaurant was a “public health risk”.
“At the Museum Super Parks Neighborhood meeting held just last week, a handful of residents showed up to oppose the building enclosure that would solve the very problems that they filed the lawsuit on this past week,” owner Nakia Price said. “We have been and are ready and willing to do whatever we have to do to solve this problem.”
Back in September, Price says that TLH secured a permit from the CIty of Houston to create a “ventilated, fully-enclosed smoking area” in order to help solve concerns raised in regards to their smokers.
“What is most puzzling to us is why the plaintiffs filed an emergency lawsuit now, the week before Thanksgiving, when the restaurant has been in operation for two years on Almeda,” John Zavitsanos, Lead Counsel for the Turkey Leg Hut said in a statement. “Thanksgiving is not only the biggest holiday of the year for turkey, the Turkey Leg Hut had previously announced they will be giving away 3,000 free turkey legs to families in the community on Monday, November 25th for Thanksgiving. Why would anyone want to deny food or assistance to those who need it by requesting an emergency injunction to stop the preparation of that food?”
A lawsuit was filed by five Third Ward residents on November 20, alleging that the smokers used by the Turkey Leg Hut have blown smoke into nearby residences since it opened in 2015. A lawyer for the group, Cris Feldman responded to Price’s press conference and called the goodwill of delivering turkeys a “stunt.”
“The blatantly illegal and unpermitted outdoor food preparation by the Turkey Leg Hut is a public health hazard,” Feldman said. “Giving away free food, whether with good intentions or as a stunt, does not allow the Turkey Leg Hut to operate illegally and put at risk the public, including nearby neighbors and the homeless.”
A statement from the Houston Health Department regarding TLH says that the restaurant has received food safety citations but nothing considered dangerous enough to order the restaurant to close.
“The Houston Health Department takes public health complaints seriously. Turkey Leg Hut has a Food Dealer’s Permit and a Fats, Oils and Grease Permit for its food service establishment located at 4830 Almeda Road. The Houston Health Department inspects food service establishments throughout the city and the Turkey Leg Hut has been inspected more than two dozen times since 2017. Turkey Leg Hut received food safety citations in July 2018 and August 2019. In both instances, the violations were not imminent health threats and it was not necessary to order the establishment to stop operating.”