Fiona’s Irish Pub in Kingstowne was in default on its lease and days from eviction when it closed in early June, according to court documents provided to Covering The Corridor.
Fiona’s owed more than $500,000 in unpaid rent, late fees and other charges to the Kingstowne Shopping Center as of May, according to records filed by the shopping center’s lawyers.
The landlord took Fiona’s and owner Martin White to court earlier this year as part of an unlawful detainer suit, which is essentially a civil claim for eviction. That suit was filed in December 2018 in Fairfax County General District Court, and on February 15 the court ruled in the landlord’s favor.
White did not appear at the hearing, according to court records. The final judgement was $496,296.09 in unpaid rent, $6,731.98 late fees and more than $200 in court and attorney fees. On top of that, Fiona’s also owes Fairfax County about $4,500 in 2019 property taxes, according to the Department of Tax Administration.
The Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office delivered an eviction notice to Fiona’s and White on May 29, with orders to vacate the premises on June 12. The restaurant appears to have closed for good on Sunday, June 9.
Covering The Corridor was unable to reach Martin White for comment. Fairfax County property records indicate that White sold his Fairfax Station home in January for $825,000.
A second Fiona’s location in the Crystal City section of Arlington closed after less than two months on June 9. A representative from the restaurant said in a Facebook message that White was no longer associated with that location. That restaurant remains closed, but the representative says they intend to reopen at some point.
The Kingstowne Fiona’s opened in May 2014, replacing King Street Blues, which was also owned by White. Fiona’s had appeared to be thriving, and its closing caught many by surprise. Lee District Supervisor candidate Rodney Lusk had planned to hold his primary night watch party at Fiona’s, but his campaign received word the day before the election that the restaurant had closed.
Lusk campaign committee member Dave Harvey got the call from a Fiona’s employee, and said he was stunned at the news.
“I said: you’re kidding right? Our event is tomorrow,” Harvey said. “But I could tell by her voice that she was serious and upset so I shook off my own disbelief and said I was very sorry to hear that news and I hoped she would be okay.”
Fiona’s began falling behind on rent payments almost immediately signing its lease in 2014, according to a Halle Companies lease ledger included in the court documents. The restaurant sometimes made only partial rent payments, and late fees and other charges — including returned check fees — began to pile up.
By the end of 2014 Fiona’s already owed more than $50,000, and by the end of December 2018 the restaurant was nearly $450,000 in the hole, according to Halle Companies ledger.