EMERALD ISLE — Chris Johns, co-owner of RuckerJohns in Emerald Isle, said York Properties of Raleigh, the owner of Emerald Plantation shopping center, has withdrawn a lawsuit against the restaurant owners seeking to force Sunday operational hours.
Mr. Johns told the News-Times Thursday word of the withdrawal came via phone call that afternoon.
He and co-owner Debbie Rucker have kept the popular restaurant in the shopping center closed on Sundays in recent weeks, seeking to give overworked employees the day off. The restaurant, like many establishments, has reportedly faced staffing problems and heavy business this summer.
Sunday, he said, was the day most of his staff wanted off, but the restaurant’s lease prohibited the business from being closed that day.
York Properties filed the lawsuit in Wake County civil court last week, but Mr. Johns and Ms. Rucker refused to back down on what they called a “nice move” for their employees. The suit has caught statewide attention.
Thursday, Mr. Johns said he was pleased the landlord had withdrawn the suit.
“We’ve been very busy” in the wake of publicity about the suit, Mr. Johns said. “There was a lot of reaction to it on social media. I’m very happy that this community here rallied for us like they do for others.”
Mr. Johns said the owners would most likely keep the restaurant closed Sundays through the summer and assess the situation in the fall.
In an interview Sunday, Ms. Rucker said staff had been working overtime as a result of the pandemic. The management team, she said, was fearful the cooks and wait staff at the Emerald Isle and Wilmington locations could not keep the current pace. The Wilmington restaurant is also now closed Sundays.
The co-owners also said there are numerous stores in the Emerald Plantation Shopping Center closed Sundays. Mr. Johns said he knew York Properties was getting “been getting slammed on social media and with phone calls” and he hoped the company would change its mind.
York Properties is represented in the suit by attorney Nelson Harris of Raleigh. The company has not responded to the News-Times’ requests for comment.
Mr. Johns and the business were named in the suit and are represented by attorney Jason Miller, also of Raleigh, Mr. Johns said.
Reporter's note: This article was last updated at 10:10 a.m. Friday, June 18, 2021, with background information.
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