The Colorado company that runs the Snowmass Village bowling alley is suing its upstairs neighbor for the second time in three years, alleging the restaurant’s grease trap has repeatedly failed and leaked thousands of gallons of that substance, detergent and foul water into the plaintiff’s equipment.
The lawsuit by Gutterball LLC, which owns and operates Slopeside Lanes, blames the management of Venga Venga Cantina and Tequila Bar for failing to fix the longstanding issue. Venga Venga’s general manager said that his business and the bowling alley are employing plumbers to identify and solve the problem. The lawsuit against Tacos of Snowmass LLC, which does business as Venga Venga, was filed Wednesday in Pitkin County District Court.
Despite Venga Venga’s hiring of a plumbing expert in late 2017 — after settling the first lawsuit over the same issue in 2015 — the bowling alley was flooded on six days in December, twice in February and as recently as a few days ago, the lawsuit says.
In March 2017, “there was a massive spill of water, grease and other unknown liquids from Venga’s kitchen grease trap and other kitchen equipment into Gutterball’s space,” wrote Aspen attorney Alan Feldman, who is representing the plaintiff. “The liquids that poured into Gutterball’s space amount to several hundred, if not over 1,000, gallons of dirty water, grease and other liquids commonly found in a commercial kitchen and restaurant.”
The liquids allegedly soaked and heavily damaged all of Slopeside’s bowling equipment, including pin-setting and scoring infrastructure. The lawsuit describes the mess as being “inches deep” and says it ruined the drywall ceiling and walls in the rear of the business.
It also alleges that the restaurant’s bathrooms have leaked “gallons of liquids into Gutterball’s and other tenants’ spaces” — including the Snowmass Clinic — “on numerous occasions since 2015.”
Amid the latest grease incident, March 15-18, 2017, Slopeside staff confronted Venga Venga management and filmed the source of the flood in the restaurant’s kitchen, Feldman wrote.
“This video has been shared with Venga on multiple occasions,” the lawsuit says. “However, Venga has refused to respond or do anything about the problem and has ignored Gutterball’s requests that Venga correct the problem.”
Venga Venga general manager Chris Anderson said that isn’t the case, as both businesses have hired plumbers and are also working with building maintenance staff. He said his staff has been cooperative, letting Slopeside employees or plumbers into the restaurant anytime they want. Still, he acknowledged that finding the source of the issue has proven elusive.
“There’s been nothing conclusive,” Anderson said, though he added that plumbers have apparently found a way to alter the piping to completely bypass Slopeside and other businesses so that another spill won’t “affect them whatsoever.”
The initial spill, which led to the first lawsuit, happened in September 2015, just before the bowling alley was to open. The opening was delayed until December of that year so Gutterball principal Mark Reece could replace two lanes, along with pin-setting and scoring equipment, and repair the ceiling, walls and electrical systems.
The damage was estimated at $75,000, which Gutterball’s insurer paid. They were then reimbursed by Venga Venga’s insurer. The lawsuit was settled with the restaurant paying the bowling alley $25,000 for nine weeks of lost business.
The latest filing contains claims for negligence and trespass.
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