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Business locked out

PHOENIX -- The owner of the Texas Rose Barbecue says she got a rude surprise Monday when she dropped by her business to do some paperwork and found herself locked out in a lease dispute.

The locks had been changed, my signs were torn down, my barbecue pit moved, and the fence around it torn down, restaurant owner Carolyn Riley said. When I looked in the window, everything inside was taken out, my tables, chairs, wall decorations, everything.

Riley said the action by her landlords, Jerry and Jennifer Greer, surprised her because attorneys for both parties were in negotiations and as recently as Friday night she believed they were making progress.

The Greers did not immediately return a call Tuesday afternoon.

Riley's attorney, Doug Gard, said the Greers had chosen to exercise a commercial leasor's right to a landlord's lien on the entire premises.

Commercial tenancy is very different from residential tenancy, Gard said. There's no landlord lien in residential tenancy. It's been outlawed, but it used to be that way with residential tenancy too.

Gard said the Texas Rose dispute centered on additional money Riley paid last year under an agreement, which was never carried through, to purchase the building. Gard said his client's position was that she had paid more than the lease required. The Greers' position is that Riley is in default, he said.

Riley said she wished to reassure customers who had purchased gift certificates that she would honor those commitments as soon as she reopened.

I am a responsible person, Riley said. I personally didn't do anything wrong. I had a wrong thing done to me. I do honor all my debts.