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Recently-evicted Gentry Bar & Room sued for $163,000 in unpaid rent

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Gentry Room & Bar is now open on King Street Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Charleston. Grace Beahm/Staff

Southern Charm star John David Madison dodged rent bills at Gentry Bar & Room for the restaurant’s entire run, according to a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court.

The Delaware-based company which owns the property at 276 King St claims it’s owed $163,233 in unpaid rent and associated fees. Madison in June was sent a default notice based on his failure to “pay any rent since on or before April 2017.”

Gentry Bar & Room opened on Mar. 31, promising craft cocktails and “Lowcountry fare inspired by the area’s Gullah-Geechee cuisine.” It failed to gain traction with diners, garnering a three-star rating on Yelp; one of the last customers to post an online review alleged that staff infighting spoiled a Sept. 3 drinks session at the bar.

Two weeks later, Gentry was evicted. According to the lawsuit, Madison had first told his landlord he could afford to settle his account, and then indicated he had found an investor who was willing to loan him the money.

Although Madison’s lease earlier this month was reduced to cover a smaller portion of the building that formerly housed Sermet’s Downtown, he didn’t sign the contract, nor did he pay any of his past due rent, explaining that Hurricane Irma had slowed down his dealings with the financial backer.

Madison issued a statement one day after he was forced out, asserting that Gentry Bar & Room had not gone out of business. Rather, he said, “the ownership of the building changed hands, and when that happened, the option for lease renewal became increasingly difficult. The decision to relocate the successful business became a necessity.”

In response to an e-mail sent last week to the restaurant’s general mailbox, a spokesperson responded, “JD has stated that bookkeeping is speaking to all vendors this week, and is ensuring that there will be no bill that goes unpaid.”

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

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