Clock Ticking for Cafe Eccell

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas Things are heating up for Cafe Eccell, after a controversial multi-million dollar deal was finalized between the City of College Station and the developer.

College Station officials finalized the deal with Asset Plus on Monday for 3.36 acres of land, located on Church Street near Wellborn in the Northgate District of College Station. The company purchased the land for nearly $3 million, and city officials said they will invest at least $25 million to build a mid-rise multifamily housing development with about 6,000 square feet of retail space located on the ground floor.

The building that has housed Cafe Eccell for more than 25 years, which served as the first city hall in College Station, will be torn down. Asset Plus officials said the old tree in front of the restaurant will be preserved.

As for Cafe Eccell, the new owners want them out. Their lease expires Tuesday at 11:59 p.m., and officials with Asset Plus have expressed no desire to extend it.

"They have the opportunity to move their restaurant, and have had that since December in 2011 when they found out what was going on with the city selling the site," said Mike McGrath with Asset Plus.

Cafe Eccell owners Costa and Andreas Dallis said as part of the deal, Asset Plus was supposed to work with them to keep the restaurant open.

Costa, who's spent years in the food business, compared the meetings to fruit.

"We had an apple, then we got a tangerine, then we got a pear, then we got an orange. Then a sour grape at the very end," said Costa. "And so, we were okay with all the other fruit, but the sour grape is the one we're not okay with."

Costa said the sour grape was the parking they were once promised, but were later denied in November of last year.

Asset Plus officials say they never promised exclusive parking, and Cafe Eccell knew that from the beginning.

"So their claim that they just found out about parking in November is completely false," said Barrett Kirk with Asset Plus and Texas A&M University graduate.

News 3 obtained plans the Costas claim were sent to them during the early stages. In the plans, an Asset Plus logo can be seen, and an area labeled "restaurant parking" can be seen next to Cafe Eccell.

Asset Plus officials would not comment on the plans, but Costa says they're proof the developer promised them exclusive parking.

In a statement, Costa said, "For months, we were told and shown plans allowing for dedicated parking. To be told at the 11th hour that the new lease would not include parking was a devastating blow. We are not in denial nor are we stubbornly trying to undermine anything. We believe we have the right to a new lease that is commercially reasonable. Because we live in a town of values, we expected the City and the new buyer to share those values. It is unfortunate that the City and Asset Plus cannot accommodate us going forward. We will comply with the Court's ruling on this matter."

Costa said they plan to open for business Wednesday morning, even after city officials ordered them to close up shop.