NEW ORLEANS -- The French Market Corporation says Montrel's Bistro owes it $90,000 for electricity, plus about $38,000 in back rent.
It has become a bizarre standoff, with the owners of Montrel's no longer open for business, but refusing to give up the building.
“We are still waiting for Montrel's to turn over the keys to us,” said Demetric Mercadel, the French Market Board president.
The restaurant owners have now closed Montrel's and are running another restaurant, the Creole Cottage at Esplanade and Grand Route St. John.
At a board meeting Tuesday night, the French Market Board president said Montrel's operators have even taken apparent steps to keep them out of the building.
“A couple of times I've passed, it's like somebody is babysitting the facility, I guess to make sure we don’t come in,” Mercadel said. “I don’t know what they’re doing. … It’s unfortunate.”
The issue goes to court in two weeks, and Demetric Mercadel says the owners of Montrel's owe more back rent each day they refuse to turn over those keys.