College Station city officials were told the Cafe Eccell property was found "ransacked" when the new owners showed up Thursday to access the property.

The Eagle obtained an email sent to College Station City Manager Kelly Templin Thursday that said a team from Asset Plus, the Houston-based developers that purchased the property in January, showed up Thursday morning to begin discussing the demolition of the building for student housing. They found the interior of the building in disarray, the email said, with interior windowpanes, the HVAC system and the city's commemorative plaque marking it as a historical site missing.

Interior damage to the building of the former popular restaurant exposed asbestos at such a level that Asset Plus must now notify the state. Mark Lindley, senior vice president of construction with Asset Plus, told the city that no one will be allowed in the building unless they are wearing a hazmat suit, according to the email.

The disturbance of asbestos will bring construction on the property to a screeching halt. Exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing lung disease, mesothelimoma and asbestosis.

"They're required by law to report that to the TCEQ, which will slow down work on the structure because everyone entering or dealing with it has to wear a hazmat suit," Templin said.

No police report has been filed, though the email to Templin concluded by stating that Asset Plus is considering filing one. The property now has a fence around it and tape on the building.

Asset Plus closed on the property's sale in January, but Cafe Eccell stayed open through March 8. Cafe Eccell was in the process of appealing an eviction suit to county court, and its owners had filed suits against Asset Plus and College Station to stop the sale of its property. Cafe Eccell and Asset Plus announced in late February that they had reached a confidential settlement to have the restaurant vacate the property.

Costa and Andreas Dallis co-owned the restaurant. Their attorney, Craig Greening, said they were out of the building by Tuesday night, and keys to the property were handed over to a representative of Asset Plus at Cafe Eccell on Wednesday afternoon. He said there was no walk through done at the time the keys were exchanged.

Greening said the brothers removed the pizza oven from the front of the restaurant. He said he did not know about the AC units being removed and did not see windows removed when he drove by the restaurant Wednesday evening.

"What was removed from Cafe Eccell was expressly provided for in the confidential settlement agreement," Greening said in a statement.

The Dallis brothers would not respond for comment due to the possibility of a police report being filed, Greening said. He said he learned of the state of the restaurant from The Eagle on Friday.

Representatives from Asset Plus did not return requests for comment on Friday afternoon.

College Station owned the building before Asset Plus, and the site was the city's first city hall. Mayor Nancy Berry had previously expressed interest in keeping the plaque on Asset Plus' new development to mark the site as historical.

According to the lease between College Station and Cafe Eccell -- which transferred to Asset Plus with the sale -- any physical additions, alterations or improvements to the premises made by Cafe Eccell will become property of the owner, except trade fixtures, shelving, counters or other appliances.

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(30) comments

SDW

They might want to start with the previous tenants. I think they were the ones that removed the stuff that is missing.

Nunya Bidness

I should have gotten popcorn to enjoy this show before starting to read this story. This is awesome! This fight is so viscous for there is so little at stake. Can't wait for the next installment of this show! Someone should have pitched this as a reality show!

bone52

How do u ransack a building that is about to be torn down ?????? Wait for it Wait ! YOU CAN'T !!!!!

Ben Wade

Oh aggieAPG, I almost forgot. Credibility RIP.

Ben Wade

aggieAPG. It might be a good idea to do some research before you make comments. If you view the last few mixed beverage tax reports, you will see that The Backyard is consistently either #1 or in the top three in sales for the county. The link is found here FYI. http://www.window.state.tx.us/filelib/bev02-28.csv. That's just february, but you can view the fall as well to seek the information you need in your pursuit for accuracy.

aggieAPG

I was in Cafe Eccel two weeks ago at 8 on a Friday. It was fullish but there was no wait, and by the time my dinner got to my wobbly table, the place was deserted (before 9)... When I moved here, you needed a reservation on weekends.

Have you ever eaten at the backyard? It's awful. And the backyard will be next to close (maybe they'll move eccel there next). It is not getting enough business and has horrendous turnover from what I've heard as a lot of the employees can't make ends meet. Dukes has a very capable general manager. He's done a lot to grow the business from just serving underage minors (which it is still notorious for). But business on Northgate is very very risky and low profit, hardly anything that can support more than a couple dozen employees at most and only a few full-time (low salary). Hardly the multi-million sales that the restaurant did.

I spent years as a high-end manager before I went back to finish school because I want more for myself personally. But I do know most of the players in the business in this town and on northgate. That's why I feel I can easily distinguish management characteristics by visiting a restaurant/bar. A dirty restaurant is a direct reflection of the attitudes of the management. Those being apathy (most likely) and/or incompetence. A good manager can set up a system that enforces itself and does all this for him with little supervision.

By contrast, just look at the men who are building successful restaurants in this robust, highly-competitive market. Tom Kenney and Jimmy Loup have built two highly successful restaurants in this town in the last two years and have already expanded in-state and out-of-state. They wouldn't build a bar on northgate. That's chump change at best.

I just feel that there shouldn't be anyone in the Dallis' corner which is why I have commented. Don't understand how anyone can defend these guys at this point. And if they continue down this road, they'll lost it all before you know it.

Joeboothemagnificent

Amazing you know so much about this situation APGaggie. No one will know for sure, but I am guessing you work for Asset Plus or for the City of College Station. Every time i went to Cafe Eccell the place was packed....same with La Bodega....same with Backyard....same with Daisy Dukes. Apparently, these two "idiots" know something.

roy g

And once again, as on KBTX, this "joeboothemagnificent" is jumping up to defend the Dallis brothers just as he did when Andreas Dallis was arrested after having been witnessed in a drunken hit-and-run collision, and the criminal history of the family was revealed on Justiceweb.

One of these now disgraced brothers could be standing at a crime scene with a bloody knife and a victim on the ground, and joeboo would be jumping up claiming "Nobody SAW him do it, he just happened to walk in and pick up the knife" and then accuse others of being involved in some sort of conspiracy with the victim.

Joeboothemagnificent

Just stating the facts Roy G. Please capitalize Joeboothemagnificent going forward if you would kind sir.

roy g

I'll think about it, Mr. Greening.

aggieAPG

The funny thing is they could have used this situation to find and develop a new location for Cafe Eccel which, if done correctly, could have been very good for business.

My case is these guys are sleaze balls and bad at what they do.

Do you think The Republic would do this if that old shopping center they are in gets sold off? Or is it more likely they would move locations to great fanfare? Do you think you could find a speck of dust or cobwebs or old furniture and dirty floors there or at Christopher's?

These two guys lost their businesses through incompetence in the face of actual completion for the last ten years.

I find it odd they haven't found a new location which suggests they either can't afford it and/or they can't find a bank to help either. Reputation RIP

GuardianAtTheGate

If the Dallis brothers truly ransacked the property, the last laugh is on them. Exposing themselves and their employees to asbestos dust during the ransacking process may put them all at risk for mesothelioma. See you advertising on the tube in the future with Mesothelioma Doug! LMAO. I do feel sorry for the innocent construction laborers who will be exposed to asbestos dust despite attempts at proper disposal. Working men trying to make a living. Burn in Hades Dallis bros, for putting others at risk over your own bitterness.

aggieAPG

Their plan apparently was then to refuse to vacate when their legal right to be there was up... They then forced this company to pay them off in order to avoid months of deliberately stalled court battles which the brothers would have lost. And then they trash the place... Window panes? really?
Can you honestly deny this as unethical and dishonorable behavior? Sadly, this false sense of entitlement and abuse of the legal system is all to common today. They stood in the way of a deal worth tens of millions of dollars (equal to at least 25-30 years of business for that restaurant) for what?

I think it is that over the last few years their business has been shrinking. Not only have their other ventures turned out very badly (Eccel Steakhouse, La Bodega Coast, and Knockouts) but their sales at Cafe Eccel have also declined due to competent competition from a very robust restaurant market.

Funny thing about their management skills: Grub Burger Bar bought the property where all those failed restaurants had been and built a booming business that has already added four more locations since the first here in CS and they plan on building many more.

These brothers we're losing their golden egg (their only really profitable restaurant which was already doomed from sales declines) and they didn't know how to or didn't choose to handle it professionally.

I understand that which is why I have no respect for them. And no, I am not in city management.

GuardianAtTheGate

Shades of Tommy dallis

aggieAPG

BryanTx, was anything I wrote wrong or are you just addressing the tone of what was written?

In this day and age, I have little compassion for people who are playing the victim when it is obvious they have had the largest influence on the situation in which they found themselves. Why didn't these two secure another location as a backup plan?
Let's sum this up: the brothers wanted a free upgrade inside a multi-million dollar property (which will bring a lot of money into the local economy by just being built), and they want this new property on their terms. That strikes me as a bit arrogant.
Then when this falls through based on the unrealistic demands (like they have a right to that) these two put on the city and this management company they are told, months before their lease expires, that they would no longer have a place. The plan, if y

prairiegirl

Amen to all you've said aggieAPG!

BryanTX

APG has shown his/her true colors as well. You seem to be really full of venom regarding the Dallis brothers. Maybe you should let that go so you can manage CS with a clear mind.

aggieAPG

These guys have shown their true colors throughout this entire process. They are lazy, poor excuses for businessmen.

They never owned the property. They leased it. They we're told almost a year ahead of time that when their lease expired, the city was going to sell the property. They chose to feel entitled to a free upgrade to brand new facilities which the city and the management company both did not feel they were required to do.
These two brothers put all their eggs in one basket, then they have the nerve to go to the press and misrepresent what happened trying to play the victim. Pathetic.

Cafe Eccel was a poorly managed dump with ok food for this town. If a quaint atmosphere is a place that is layered in dust, visible cobwebs, wobbly, scratched furniture and floors that haven't been mopped or buffed in decades... then it was quaint. I think it was a dump run by two idiots who have already had three restaurants fail (this is a technical fourth).

One of them was even arrested for a hit and run last week in which he refused to even speak to the police. he made them bring video and a warrant before settling the situation.

So is it really that big a stretch that they would vandalize the space as well? Their former employees should sue over the exposure to asbestos.

One thing is for sure, no one with any idea what they are doing will do business with these two in this city again. Chumps

Joeboothemagnificent

I am guessing Asset Plus wanted to use the building for pre-leasing. The lease agreement means nothing, Asset Plus terminated it and Cafe Eccell was holding over. What matters is what's in the "confidential settlement agreement" Mr. Greening referred to above.

Beth Brown-Is this really news? Why is it every time I read something you write about this situation it is always negative about the Cafe Eccell owners? Personal vendetta or friends with someone at the city?

Kelly Templin-I am curious why you are leaking information in your capacity as a city official about two private parties and their concerns to the public? Isn't that against the law, especially if it's intended to be slander?

ftw

Shouldn't the city be required to disclose the asbestos to the buyers during the sale? I wonder what their liability is in this?

Perhaps Asset Plus purchased the property "as is", but if not, I would think there is a responsibility to disclose that information, and it is a standard question on most closing documents in real estate transactions.

curious1

Ransacked? Really? We talk about a very old building to be demolished that housed a restaurant. When was the last time this reporter visited a property after a restaurant moved out? From your images I see the tenant left some souvenirs like the ceiling fans and menus. Since when are historical plaques themselves historic? Can they not order a new one without restaurant grease all over it? As for the asbestos you really have a winner. Apparently the restaurant owner wanted to intentionally be exposed to deadly asbestos fibers so he maliciously disturbed the space. Does this reporter know that the City was forced to do such expensive asbestos removal before the demolition of all residences on the 2nd street in order to build the Northgate parking garage? The City knows or should have known that there was asbestos in the Café Eccell building. The more appropriate question a reporter should have asked is whether the City did full disclosure to the buyer of the property before the sale. Actually the City and the new owner should have provided notification to the tenants for potential asbestos problems. Either way the neighborhood must be thankful that the State must now be notified so the removal is done right. Somebody needs to nag the attorney of these people. Truly fine reporting guys.

Comment deleted.
the real slim shady

I guess you have a crush on Ted Nugent.

BryanTX

Real story here is how vindictive the CS city manager is when he doesn't get exactly his way. Business owners should keep this in mind when deciding which city to do business in.

JMO

I'm not in demolition, but I'm pretty sure that the new owners' plan would have been to cut out the material coated in asbestos (thus not creating asbestos dust) rather than breaking into the asbestos and creating dust, which seems mysteriously to have happened.
Now hazmat suits and federal regulations are involved, costing the new owners multi thousands of dollars. What part of that don't you people understand?

lawman6

those that are saying move on...no story...they were going to tear it down anyways - don't understand that a crime was committed. "someone" vandalized the place - if it was the previous owners, they need to be held accountable.

if they left that place in that shape after their lease ended, they should be paying to get it back up to prelease condition.


rsa

wingerbill noted on the asbestos "Wouldn't demolition have done the same thing, and caused the same "slow down"?" My thought exactly. This becomes a newsworthy story only if Assets Plus had no plans to tear the building down and has to deal with asbestos abatement on a larger scale.

Julius

That;s just what the Brazos Animal Shelter did when they left the building on Finfeather; they even took the sink & faucet & left the pipes exposed. They pulled the fencing out of the concrete on the inside. Who knows what makes people do that kind of stuff.

prairiegirl

I think the brothers had a hand in this mess. Probably p-o'd at losing the location and decided to give a little payback. Check their hands and clothing for asbestos. I just bet they kept a key for this reason.

wingerbill

"Interior damage to the building of the former popular restaurant exposed asbestos at such a level that Asset Plus must now notify the state."

Wouldn't demolition have done the same thing, and caused the same "slow down"?

I agree, let's move on. Looks like a 'non-story' to me, must have been a slow news day yesterday.

GG

So??? They were going to tear it down anyway! At least the feud is over, move on and quit you're boo hooing! [wink]

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