Godsey’s hasn’t paid rent at either location in months: lawsuits

Godsey's Grill Downtown on their final day of business - the morning of Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Photo by Stan Morris | NEA Report

Was evicted from downtown location as unpaid rent mounts at Hilltop location

JONESBORO, Ark. – While Godsey’s Grill representatives were indirect with why the downtown location was closing, a new report says they were actually evicted for owing rent and are being sued.

The situation isn’t looking much better for the Hilltop location, which is also being sued for unpaid rent.

CFR Grills LLC, owned by Chris Cooper and Wallace (Wally) Fowler Jr., is the parent company of Godsey’s Grill Downtown. CFR is also the defendant in a lawsuit for $22,800 in unpaid rent in a lawsuit filed by TC & JC Investments (Tom and Jeannie Martin), who own 226 South Main Street – the location of the downtown Godsey’s. The Jonesboro Sun reports that, according to the lawsuit, Godsey’s fell behind on the $7,200 monthly rent last September and October. At that point, a five-year lease was terminated and converted to month-to-month. The complaint says rent for May, June and July was not paid, explaining the reason why today (Wednesday, July 25) is the last day of business for the location downtown.

Photo by Stan Morris | NEA Report

On Monday, Angie Hemphill, an administrative assistant for Godsey’s parent company, told NEA Report the Hilltop location would remain open and all employees downtown would be moved there.

“The downtown location is closing on Wednesday,” Hemphill said. “No one is losing a job. We’re inviting everyone to join us at our Hilltop location.”

While Hemphill said management planned to focus on building the Hilltop location, management is facing another lawsuit from the landlords there, too. A second lawsuit claims Godsey’s Hilltop owes at least $50,550 in unpaid rent and another $28,880.90 in late fees. Filed on July 11, CFR Grills 2 LLC is the defendant in this suit alleged by plaintiff RLB, LLC (Ronda L. Boyer). Godsey’s Hilltop hasn’t paid their $10,110 monthly rent since March.

Before then, dating back to January, 2016, Godsey’s Hilltop was late paying rent every month except for December, 2017 – when the rent had been paid ten days early, while the previous month’s (late) rent was also paid. Only one other month, October, 2016, did Godsey’s Hilltop avoid incurring a 10-percent late fee on the rent. They were only six days late this time instead of seven.

Godsey’s Grill was co-founded by Gray Hurt and Lisa Godsey. After many years of success downtown, the Godsey’s Grill business and name was sold to the CFR, LLC and fell under the purview of Wallace Fowler, Jr and Chris Cooper.

From there, quality seemed to falter, many have opined online in reviews.

“This place has gone down hill,” wrote Donnie Gibson in a public Google review one month ago. “I can’t believe that there was a CURTAIN dividing the two sections. I immediately turned around and left.”

Another diner, Brandy Alcorn, wrote on Google reviews the quality of the food “has plummeted since Lisa Godsey left.” Her review was seven months ago.


But it was an issue around October 2, 2017, which NEA Report detailed here, that may have sealed the fate of the once-frequented establishments. The mother of a special needs child, Carey Hardin, was chastised in a post by Fowler to her Facebook wall. Someone had complained about the child and gave Godsey’s a one-star review, Fowler said, leading to him making a publicly visible (by friends) post to her Facebook wall.


Hardin woke up at 6:30 AM and cried after she read the post, she said. Following this going viral, the review average for Godsey’s Downtown went from an average of above four-stars to below two-stars by late Sunday. The restaurant was review-bombed. Fowler doubled down and even replied to some, telling them he no longer put up with “shit” from others.

With the overwhelming stress, Hardin found support from the original Godsey’s crew. Having once been an employee and remaining close with the establishment over the years, Hardin was invited to stay with a friend until the situation calmed down.

It was Gray Hurt – co-founder of the original Godsey’s.

In a public Facebook post, Godsey’s other co-founder, Lisa Godsey, added her support to Hardin, saying it should have “never happened.”

“…one thing that has remained the same is our Godsey family,” Hardin said on October 2, 2017. “We truly care about each other.”

godseys grill
Photo by Stan Morris | NEA Report

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