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Susan Latvala sues Palm Harbor restaurant for failure to pay back $10,000 loan

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Former Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala is suing the owner of Lulu’s Beach House Café in Palm Harbor. Latvala alleges the owner of the restaurant, Louise Goetz, owes her more than $10,000 for repayment in loans.

Latvala loaned Goetz money on three separate occasions. Once, she loaned Goetz $4,100 for an espresso coffee machine. Goetz signed a promissory note to make interest only payments of about $10 a month for a year before making a single balloon payment paying off the debt.

She also loaned Goetz $5,000 to cover operating expenses with a similar agreement and $1,000 to help cover a down payment to food distributor Sisco.

Latvala is seeking damages for repayment of the loans plus interest. In the filing, Latvala indicated she would be amenable to accepting the espresso coffee machine in repossession in lieu of that portion of the debt.

According to the lawsuit, Goetz never made a single payment on any of the loans.

Latvala’s fiancée, James Powers, is also suing Goetz. Powers provided furniture to Lulu’s Beach House Café on consignment with the stipulation that 90 percent of the selling price would be remitted to him with 10 percent retained as commission by the restaurant.

Powers alleges eight pieces were sold and that he is owed $2,300. Powers has not received any payments for his furniture.

In a much larger debt, Jane Kenyon is suing Goetz for more than $120,000. Her portion of the suit stems from a $130,000 loan to open the restaurant. Goetz was contractually required to make monthly payments of $2,453.26 for five years to cover the loan. To date Goetz has only made three full payments and one partial payment.

Another investor, Janet Dees, is seeking repayment of an $8,500 loan to cover operating costs. Goetz was supposed to make monthly payments of $121.25 until the debt was paid in full. To date she has not made any payments.

It’s unclear what the relationship between plaintiffs and the defendant are. According to the lawsuit, Latvala was a 5 percent owner in the restaurant.

Lulu’s is no longer open, though it’s unclear exactly when the business shut down. The restaurant’s website is still up and running, but the listed phone number takes callers to an answering machine with a message in Spanish simply asking the caller to leave a message and restating the phone number. Lulu’s Beach House Café’s Facebook page is also still active, but no posts have been made since December.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email [email protected]

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