Turkey Leg Hut: A timeline of legal troubles dogging the popular restaurant in Houston’s Third Ward

Outside view of Turkey Leg Hut on Nov. 22, 2019. (KPRC, KPRC 2)

HOUSTON – Houston’s Turkey Leg Hut started as a couple selling turkey legs in a parking lot for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2016. Since then, the restaurant has gotten quite a bit of publicity.

While some of its time in the spotlight has been positive, lately, the famous turkey leg empire has been shrouded in controversy.

Here is a look as Turkey Leg Hut’s troubles:

Nov. 20, 2019

Neighbors of Turkey Leg Hut go to court over constant smokey environment

Six neighbors near the restaurant at 4830 Almeda Road file a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order because they said Turkey Leg Hut had reduced their quality life, initially by the congested parking conditions its patrons created and then by the smoke the restaurant emitted.

The court issues a temporary injunction saying the Turkey Leg Hut would not be able to use its outside smokers from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily for 14 days.

Nov. 22, 2019

Owners of Turkey Leg Hut respond to lawsuit over smokey environment

In a heated press conference two days later, attorneys for the couple called media reports “fake news,” and disputed claims that the restaurant was operating illegally.

“We have heard and listened to the handful of complaints about the smoke from neighboring residents and have been actively pursuing a resolution in response to those complaints,” said Nakia Price, owner of Turkey Leg Hut. “We have successfully operated our business in compliance and cooperation with the city of Houston ordinances.”

The Turkey Leg Hut’s attorney showed architectural plans to build an enclosed smoker.

Nov. 26, 2019

Turkey Leg Hut wins motion to get relief from temporary restraining order filed by neighbors

After the court granted the temporary motion against the owners of Turkey Leg Hut, their attorneys filed a motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order. The owners of the Turkey Leg Hut took issue with the timing of the lawsuit against them, stating that it was filed just days before Thanksgiving — a busy time of year for a restaurant that specializes in turkey legs.

A Harris County District Court judge ruled in favor of the business owners, thus preventing the Turkey Leg Hut from running out of food early on their busy Thanksgiving holiday.

“Today’s ruling was a successful step in the right direction for the Turkey Leg Hut, whose good name and business have been unjustly damaged this week by the plaintiffs and their counsel,” the attorney said. “The (owners) aren’t big corporate villains, recklessly endangering the environment. They’re a couple who invested their life’s savings into building a successful restaurant to serve smoked turkey legs in a neighborhood they love, and we will continue to vigorously defend all allegations against them in this lawsuit.”

Dec. 9, 2019

Neighbors suspend lawsuit against Turkey Leg Hut in Third Ward

Neighbors suspended the lawsuit to “give its owners a final chance to immediately address the public health, nuisance and regulatory issues.” The group said they may resume legal action against the restaurant if the issues are not addressed.

The neighbors hoped the suspension of the litigation caused the Prices to make the most of the opportunity to comply with local laws and city health department regulations like other restaurateurs.

July 26, 2020

New lawsuit provides an inside look at Turkey Leg Hut’s financial decisions

Owner of the restaurant’s parent company, Steven Rogers is suing Nakia Price, the majority owner of the TLH Company, claiming breach of fiduciary duty and self-dealing, fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Rogers is seeking at least $100,000 in damages.

In a countersuit, Price denied all allegations brought by Rogers and sought injunctive relief. She said Rogers’ suit follows weeks of “heated negotiations” for a buyout of his interest in the company. She said the lawsuit is a “desperate move to squeeze money out.”

Despite being embroiled in various legal issues, the Turkey Leg Hut has also gotten some positive publicity by doing things like helping the homeless in the community, giving away 3,000 turkey legs, opening new food trucks, expanding the original location and holding a virtual vigil for George Floyd.

About the Author:

Daniela Sternitzky-Di Napoli has been a digital news editor at KPRC 2 since 2018. She is a published poet and has background in creative writing and journalism. Daniela has covered events like Hurricane Harvey and the Astros World Series win. In her spare time, Daniela is an avid reader and loves to spend time with her two miniature dachshunds.