The City of Pensacola has rescinded its claim to back royalties and interest, from two restaurants that are on city-leased property downtown.
City officials backed off their claims that Collier Merrill and his firm, Great Southern Restaurants owed more than five million dollars in default lease payments over the past 13 years involving the Fish House and Atlas Oyster Bar.
Talks to resolve the situation began on Monday. Merrill’s attorney Bruce Partington met with members of the private law firm Beggs and Lane, who represented the city, instead of City Attorney Jim Messer.
Pensacola businessmen Ray Russenberger and Collier Merrill will meet with city officials Monday afternoon, on allegations they owe past-due sales royalties and interest on revenues from the Fish House and Atlas Oyster Bar restaurants in downtown Pensacola. At issue is the ownership of the building, not of the restaurants themselves, on a tract of city land called “Pitt Slip Marina.” Ray Russenberger leased the property in 1987, then granted a sub-lease in 2000 to Collier Merrill and his partners – who formed Great Southern Restaurants.