|By Allison Steele, The Philadelphia
InquirerMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 27, 2009 - --Four managers and owners of the Holiday Inn near Citizens Bank Park have been charged with burglary in connection with August's commandeering of Benny the Bum's, a bar and restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel.
The tension that culminated in the would-be hostile takeover began earlier this year, when the hotel's management got into a series of disputes with restaurant owners Bret and Matt Levy, Bret Levy said.
On the evening of Aug. 19, Benny's employees were told the restaurant was under new ownership, the office was ransacked, money was removed from behind the bar, and the locks were changed. Next, police were called to report that the Levys were being evicted from the hotel at 900 Packer Ave.
Authorities, however, sided with the Levy brothers, and last week police arrested Tushar Shah, 32; Niculsina Chudasama, 55; William Green, 49; and Mahavirsi Chudasama, 47. They were charged with theft, burglary, criminal trespass, and related offenses.
Shah and Mahavirsi Chudasama live in Lumberton, Green is from Voorhees, and Niculsina Chudasama lives in the hotel.
The South Philly Benny's opened several years ago as a second location of the Northeast Philadelphia restaurant of the same name, which has been open for more than 15 years.
Bret Levy said he and his brother knew they were having problems with their landlords, but neither expected that the management would take such a step.
"It sounds unreal that all of this actually took place," he said. "We felt really victimized."
Levy believes that those charged may not have realized they needed to file papers to start eviction proceedings.
"We have a lease," he said. "You can't just tell someone who's running a business that they're out."
As soon as it was brought to the police's attention, Levy said, an attorney representing the hotel called to apologize. They also received the keys to the new locks.
Things returned to normal, Levy said, and the bar was soon back to drawing its normal crowd. Tensions remain, but Levy said he and his brother have no intention of leaving.
"We're looking forward to the World Series," Levy said. "This is going to be a big week for us."
Contact staff writer Allison Steele at 215-854-2641 or email@example.com.
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