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Tony Sutton, Baja Sol being sued by ex-landlord

Tony Sutton sold out of Baja Sol last February but the business' financial struggles continue to follow him.

Last November, Sutton, the chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party, was hit with an eviction suit from his landlord, Blackburn Blaine, who filed against Sutton for nonpayment of rent.

Tony and Bridget Sutton were late on Baja Sol's November rent payment on Baja Sol Tortilla Grill's Inver Grove Heights location. Court records show Baja Sol owed Blackburn Blaine $34,944 in past due rent and additional fees. The Suttons had defaulted on four previous occasions: June 2007, July 2007, April 2010, and June 2010.

The Inver Grove Heights Baja Sol closed last December.

"The store wasn't making money and we had to close it," Sutton said when reached for comment.

This past July, Sutton's landlord filed another lawsuit alleging breach of contract for breaking the lease. Blackburn Blaine claims Baja Sol is liable for "minimum monthly rent, additional rent, tenant improvements, and plaintiff's attorney fees and costs."

In its lawsuit, Blackburn claims the Suttons are personally liable for "the lesser of (I) the remaining Lease Term following the default by Defendant Baja Sol under the terms of the Lease; or (II) a period equal to ten (10) months of all such rent and other amounts payable following default by Defendant Baja Sol."

Last January, Blackburn Blaine's Chief Manager Gonzalo Medina Perez wrote a letter to Bridget Sutton addressing the debts.

"Under the current lease, Sutton Enterprises is liable for the remaining term of the lease, through April 30, 2017. The remaining balance due under the lease is approximately $1,040,787.74. Additionally, Tony and Bridget Sutton have personally guaranteed ten (10) months of the lease term, or approximately $133,000," according to the Dakota County court filing.

The Suttons no longer work for Baja Sol, having left the company in the past year. Baja Sol's attorney, Jack Harper, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

"We will not be commenting on this pending litigation as we do not wish to litigate this matter in the press," Harper said.

Sutton is contesting the lawsuit in court and says his attorneys are working to reach a settlement, but didn't offer much more information.

"Restaurant companies close units all the time, they work out deals with landlords, and at some point the lawyers will figure it all out," Sutton said. "That's about all I can say."

A recent judge's order set a trial date of June 28, 2012 for the lawsuit.

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