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Square has opening after restaurant eviction

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Greg Baker, right, manager of Sperata in Lawrenceville, watches as workers move furniture, food and decor out of the back door as they were evicted from their downtown location last week.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Greg Baker, right, manager of Sperata in Lawrenceville, watches as workers move furniture, food and decor out of the back door as they were evicted from their downtown location last week.

LAWRENCEVILLE — There is a vacancy in downtown Lawrenceville’s square, after the restaurant Sperata was evicted last week.

The upscale restaurant near the corner of Crogan and Perry streets was already planning on moving out after 2010 ended, having gone to court with landlord Emory Morsberger.

New Year’s Eve was supposed to be Sperata’s last night of business; but the owners were evicted Dec. 30.

“We certainly did not ask for it to happen this way, that was his choice,” owner Petra Hope said. “And what’s sad about it is that it’s really the staff who are going to miss out. For us, when we pay that kind of money, it really makes no difference to us to be open another day or so.”

“But to them it makes a difference. There’s no consideration.”

Hope and her husband Chris cited electrical and water-related safety issues, as well as high overhead, for their original reasons for wanting to leave the location. They said they had not yet given Morsberger — a developer involved in the revitalization of Lawrenceville and other high-profile projects — their final month’s rent.

They said they were waiting for written confirmation that New Year’s Eve would be their final night of business and they would have until Wednesday to move out.

“You’ve got a disgruntled tenant who was evicted for not paying their rent,” Morsberger said. “We worked with them for a long time, and finally enough was enough.”

Morsberger said he hopes to fill the vacancy with another restaurant as soon as possible.

“My goal is to make Lawrenceville a positive place,” he said. “We’ve put a lot of money in here, and we want to be team players and move forward.”