by Robert Wilonsky, City Columnist, Dallas News
…. Frank had attached a lengthy Facebook post from Amanda Austin, owner of the Dallas Comedy House on Main Street, in which she detailed how the comedy club and improv workshop was getting the boot from her Deep Ellum digs by a carpetbagging landlord — Black Market Investments, out of Lockhart — wanting to sink yet another barbecue joint in the neighborhood. Austin would tell me later that she tried to keep the whole thing a secret, hoping it would be resolved to everyone’s benefit, till it became painfully clear her days were numbered….
Austin, who has two years left on her lease, has known for three months that her days on Main could be winding down. In mid-January she discovered her building had been bought by something called Black Market Investments — so named for Terry Black, a Lockhart CPA, and his children Christina, Michael and Mark Black. Michael and Mark also own Terry Black’s Barbecue in Austin, so named for their dad after a legal tussle with their uncle Ken left them unable to use the original Black’s Barbecue moniker made famous by their grandfather Edgar Clarence Black Jr.
The lengthy letter alleged she was violating the lease by holding shows there. And by hosting classes and workshops. And by serving food and drink. And so on. The new landlords also alleged the building was one giant code violation. Kane’s letter said Austin had 10 days to fix everything or else. And so began the back-and-forth between Black Market’s attorneys and Austin’s lawyers.
On March 2, J. Michael Ellis, who reps Austin, told Kane that Black Market might want to reconsider its attempts to oust Dallas Comedy House for a barbecue restaurant. Ellis wrote that the Lockhartites’ “contrived efforts to remove Dallas’s largest and longest continually-active comedy theater from its space are unlawful, in violation of the Lease and represent a malicious scheme that will certainly interest the Dallas courts, local publications and the Dallas community.” Read more…