While many restaurants have struggled due to the pandemic, Blue Nile Restaurant in West Lafayette appears to have had additional problems.
On July 20, Hani Jibrin, the owner of Blue Nile Restaurant in West Lafayette, filed a complaint against his nephew, Wesam Abu Ghanieh, regarding the restaurant’s ownership.
Ghanieh, the complaint alleges, changed the building’s locks in early June and has “actively tried to keep Jibrin and his wife out,” refusing to give either keys to the business.
Jibrin, his wife and her sister confronted Ghanieh in early June, per the filing, at which point Ghanieh called the West Lafayette Police Department, who spoke with Ghanieh in the restaurant but refused to allow the three inside.
“Wesam works daily at the restaurant and is collecting and keeping all monies earned at the restaurant from food and drinks sold therein,” the filing states.
Additionally a more than $2,000 sign package was issued to Blue Nile with Skyline Designs LLC on July 1, per a West Lafayette permit report.
Jibrin is listed as sole tenant for the building in the filing, in a lease with the company Mohawk Capital that runs until July 2022. He claims that since he no longer has a key to the space, he cannot give the landlord access to the area should it be requested.
Ghanieh is the nephew of Jibrin’s wife, Suhaila, and he came to the U.S. from Jordan around 2008, according to the filing. He lived rent-free with the couple for six months before moving into a residence of his own.
In August 2019, the filing states Jibrin loaned Ghanieh $5,000 to buy a car, with a spoken agreement Ghanieh would repay the money to Jibrin on demand. Despite requests for payment, this money has not yet been repaid to Jibrin.
Jibrin discussed with Ghanieh the possibility of adding Ghanieh’s name to the restaurant in June 2019, per the release. By the following August, however, Ghanieh had created a limited liability company called Blue Nile Restaurant LLC without Jibrin’s knowledge or consent.
Cara Putman, a Purdue professor in the Krannert School of Management, said LLCs are separate, free-withstanding entities from businesses.
“They provide liability protection,” she said, stating that it’s not uncommon for a business to operate multiple LLCs at a time.
She said LLCs are set up by shareholders, called members, who control the LLC.
Ghanieh is stated as the managing member of the LLC, and Jibrin alleges he was never given copies of forms for the LLC and does not know if he was made a member.
The Blue Nile Restaurant and its assets, equipment or earnings were “at no time” contributed to the LLC, per the complaint.
Ghanieh was permitted to work at Blue Nile in 2019 in exchange for payment as well as room and board.
“Almost immediately upon commencing such employment, Ghanieh began to harass, annoy, upset and show disrespect to the other restaurant employees,” the filing states, “including Suhalia, who has worked there for many years.”
Ghanieh’s behavior allegedly became so negative that it caused all other employees of the restaurant to quit.
Jibrin has requested in the complaint that Ghanieh be barred from entering or being on the premises of the Blue Nile Restaurant and be made to repay any revenue and property Ghanieh took from him.
A status session was set with the court regarding the complaint Wednesday morning, but as of that evening no update had been made to the case.
As of Thursday morning, both parties and their attorneys declined to give further comment.