Judge to decide Wolf Den lease case

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Alex Wolf, owner of the Wolf Den Tavern in downtown Steamboat Springs, is in a legal dispute with his former landlord over the bar's lease.

Wolf filed a lawsuit against George Hussey, former owner of the Harbor Hotel, arguing that he entered into a long-term lease for the property at 703 Lincoln Ave. Wolf said the lease should still be valid even though Hussey has sold the Harbor Hotel.

The case was heard this week, and District Judge Paul McLimans of the 14th Judicial District said he hoped to have a decision by the end of next week.

In addition to asking the judge to enforce the lease for his company, Lonely Wolves LLC, Wolf also is seeking $50,000 in damages, including attorney's fees, loss of value of the lease and loss of profits.

Hussey maintains there is no such lease and said Wolf signed a one-year bar lease June 15, 2001, according to court files. Hussey said in an affidavit that Wolf changed the lease without his permission, and that his office sent draft leases to Wolf from June through November 2002 that Wolf did not accept.

According to court files, Wolf said that he paid raised rents consistent with a new lease, thus signaling there was a valid lease. State law states a contract can be changed by a verbal agreement or in writing, and that provisions may be waived expressly by implication or by conduct.

The lease in question specified a two-year term ending in June 2003 with a five-year renewal.

In 2002, Hussey sold the Harbor Hotel property, which included the bar space Wolf leased. If there is a valid long-term lease between Wolf and Hussey, then the hotel's new owners could be responsible for that lease.

Wolf filed the case against Hussey on May 29.

"I think that the landlord ... is much like a fish that got hooked on a lease," Wolf's attorney, Vance Halvorson, said in his closing argument.

Chris Atwell, the attorney representing Hussey, countered that Wolf's actions were "utterly inconsistent with acceptance" of a long-term lease.

"Mr. Hussey did not demand actions consistent with a long-term lease," Atwell said in his closing argument. "Mr. Hussey did not ratify a long-term lease."


-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or email sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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