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Todd English sued for $723,000 in back rent

Olives reopened in April after an extended closure because of a grease fire.

Globe File Photo/2010

Olives reopened in April after an extended closure because of a grease fire.

Todd English is facing another lawsuit accusing­ the celebrity chef of failing to pay rent at one of his restaurants — this time at the flagship Olives in Charlestown.

English owes about $723,000 in back rent to the landlords, Carey Realty and City Square Holdings, according to a claim filed this month in Suffolk Superior Court.

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Olives, where English built his reputation two decades ago, reopened in April after an extended closure because of a grease fire that had caused an estimated $200,000 in damage. In their complaint, the landlords blame the fire on a lack of maintenance by the restaurant.

“The fire was caused by Olive’s negligence in failing to clean the grease from the duct work that served the premises, allowing it to accumulate and become combustible,” they said. “After the fire, Olive continued to default on its monthly payment obligations under the lease.”

The court papers claim the restaurant did not pay rent from June 2010 through May of this year and missed payments due in August and September. The landlords made a written demand in July for English to immediately repay the debt, but he refused, according to the lawsuit.

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Kevin Clancy, an attorney for the landlords, said they are in negotiations with English, “and the parties are hopeful that a resolution can be reached.”

English did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The legal trouble comes four months after English’s former landlord at Faneuil Hall Marketplace filed a separate lawsuit against the restaurateur for allegedly failing to pay nearly $1 million in rent and other charges on his now closed restaurant there, Kingfish Hall. English did not make good on back rent despite a judgment entered against him more than a year ago in Boston Municipal Court, according to a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court in May by the company that used to operate Faneuil Hall.

General Growth Properties, which ran the mall until October, began eviction procedures in 2011 after Kingfish Hall fell behind on rent. English eventually left the space with thousands of dollars in damage. Photos obtained by the Globe showed what appeared to be ripped ceiling tiles, torn ductwork, exposed wires, and garbage strewn throughout the historic property, which is owned by the City of Boston. A cleaning crew was later brought in by English to make repairs and clear the mess.

Olives, English’s first restaurant, opened in Charlestown in 1989, quickly garnering acclaim­ for its rustic Mediterranean cuisine. He rapidly expanded his business holdings in recent years by opening more than 20 restaurants across the country, writing numerous cookbooks, creating a houseware line, and hosting the PBS travel series “Food Trip with Todd English,” according to English’s website.

But lately, the chef’s mounting financial troubles have been receiving more attention than his culinary exploits. At least six lawsuits have been filed against him related to claims of unpaid bills and the closing of several restaurants. Earlier this year, JW Lopes LLC filed a suit seeking $34,000 from English for goods it provided to Kingfish Hall.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jennabelson.
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