Pauly’s Famous Franks ‘n Fries tanked just a year into its 10-year lease at The Plant shopping center because of the landlord’s shady shenanigans. Now, Paul Orozco, the eponymous owner of the defunct fast-food joint, is entitled to some of the $700,000 in attorney fees he spent suing Vornado, the company that owned the retail complex at San Jose’s Monterey Road and Curtner Avenue.
The recent appeals court ruling culminates years of litigation between Orozco—who also owns the popular burrito spot Iguana’s—and Vornado Realty Trust, which owned The Plant before selling it off to Cole Real Estate Investments for a cool $205 million in 2013.
In his original suit, Orozco accused Vornado leasing manager Amber Weltner of fraud for lying to him to close the deal and earn several thousand dollars in commission.
Orozco asked multiple times whether any other businesses at the center would directly compete with his new restaurant’s focus: gourmet hot dogs. Weltner repeatedly told him that she couldn’t disclose what other tenants were moving in because of Vornado’s policy against discussing ongoing negotiations.
In fact, no such policy existed.
Orozco took Weltner at her word and opened Pauly’s in October 2012. Sales were great and trended up right until a new hot dog joint moved in six months later. Al’s Beef opened just a couple doors down from Pauly’s, marking the beginning of the end for Orozco’s new franchise.
Over the subsequent weeks, Pauly’s sales plummeted by 35 percent. About six months after Al’s entrance to the block, Pauly’s closed for good.
A jury found Vornado liable for fraud, intentional misrepresentation and $677,000 in lost profits. Now, six years after this whole saga started, Orozco will get at least some of his money back for legal fees too.