Legal Sea Foods Launches Fight to Save More than 50 Jobs at National Airport Restaurant

"If it's not transparent, it's not legal."

Jul 02, 2009, 18:30 ET from Legal Sea Foods

WASHINGTON, July 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With over 50 full and part-time jobs on the line at its highly acclaimed Ronald Reagan National Airport restaurant, Legal Sea Foods has filed a legal complaint against the airport authority in an effort to remain in operation in the space they have occupied for the past 12 years. In the complaint, Legal Sea Foods claims that MWAA never put out a RFP for the space they occupy near the north gate at Terminal C.

"We want to stay and continue to build on the success we've enjoyed at National Airport for the past 12 years," said Legal Sea Foods President and CEO Roger Berkowitz. "Our loyal employees and customers know we've won awards for our customer service and our family friendly atmosphere and have become a favorite for travelers passing through National Airport. We have over 50 full and part time employees there that we'd like to keep working."

Legal Sea Foods has endured more that 15 months of negotiations with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). During the lease negotiations, Legal Sea Foods had agreed to expand its restaurant footprint, spend up to $2.3 million in renovations, and other demands made by MWAA.

The discussions were broken off by MWAA when Legal Sea Foods wouldn't meet its demand that the restaurant close completely in August 2009 for renovations. MWAA refused Legal's counter proposal to conduct the renovations in stages or close at a traditionally slower time for the restaurant such as January 2010. Recently, Legal Sea Foods successfully expanded their 7th Street NW without closing their restaurant.

"Legal's is a highly successful owner-operated restaurant at National Airport," Berkowitz added. "We have 5 restaurants in the DC area and we are very committed to staying and expanding at National. Despite challenging economic conditions including more dining options at National and a decrease in enplanements, we agreed to invest in the restaurant with a renovation and expansion plan. "

Legal Sea Foods filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Virginia this week to force MWAA to reconduct the leasing process in an open and transparent way as is required by federal law. In the complaint Legal Sea Foods believes that in awarding the lease for the space to another concession MWAA did not conduct an open and transparent process and thus violated the law.

"Something smells fishy and we are going to fight to get to the bottom of it," Berkowitz said.

"We are one of the top revenue generators at the airport and we want to stay. It simply makes no sense to replace a long term tenant like Legal Sea Foods and our track record of success with a concession that has no history at National Airport. We believe the process was unfair and probably illegal and we have filed suit to stay and keep over 50 jobs we have at the airport restaurant," said Berkowitz.

For over 50 years, Legal Sea Foods Inc. has set the standard for quality and freshness in the seafood and restaurant business. With more than 30 restaurants up and down the East Coast, Legal Sea Foods has earned scores of honors and awards; Roger Berkowitz, Outstanding Restaurateur - James Beard Award semi-finalist (2009), "Best Chain Overall Beverage Program" Cheers magazine (2009), and Legal Sea Foods: "Frequent Traveler Awards: Favorite Airport Restaurant" (2009). Legal Sea Foods proudly carries its well-earned reputation as the nation's finest seafood restaurant. For more information about Legal Sea Foods and its locations, please visit

Roger Berkowitz is the President and CEO of Legal Sea Foods, Inc. In 2008, Legal Sea Foods was named by Washingtonian as "Best Place for Great Seafood" and recognized for "Best Crab Cakes. " Legal Sea Foods was voted "Frequent Traveler Awards: Favorite Airport Restaurant" by the Airport Revenue News in 2009. In 2008, Berkowitz was inducted into the Nation's Restaurant News' "Menu Masters Hall of Fame."

SOURCE Legal Sea Foods