ROCKLAND, Maine — A former Rockland restaurateur has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the landlord who evicted him.
In the consent judgment filed this week in Knox County Unified Court, John Conte agreed to pay former landlord Robert Wiggin $20,000.
Wiggin sued Conte in March, seeking nearly $30,000 for back rent and damage to the South Main Street building the popular Conte’s restaurant had occupied since February 2010.
The agreement filed in court calls for Conte to place in escrow his 31 percent shares of Waterfront Group Inc. That corporation owns the property where the Oyster Bar at the Pearl restaurant is located. When the shares are sold, Conte must pay $20,000 to Wiggin.
The property is assessed by the city at $801,100.
Wiggin had received court approval in February to evict Conte, longtime proprietor of Conte’s restaurant, from the 148 South Main St. property. The lawsuit claimed Conte owed Wiggin $17,000 in rent as well as damage to the property.
The building that housed Conte’s has been converted to Wiggin’s Meat Market.
Conte’s restaurant had been located on the waterfront from the 1990s until it moved to South Main Street in 2010.
The restaurant gained a bit of a cult following. It had a cluttered look, with lobster traps and fishing nets outside. In 2002, the Rockland Harbor Management Commission sent a letter to City Council complaining about what it said was the poor aesthetic appearance of the restaurant. Supporters of the restaurant spoke out, and the council ultimately approved the renewal of its liquor license.
Inside, Conte often used newspapers for tablecloths, and the menu would be written on butcher paper rolls and change depending on what fresh seafood was brought in that day.
Wiggin was represented by attorney Chad Cloutier of Rockland. Conte was represented by attorney Christopher Harmon of Portland.