Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Judge backs Giunta in chicken case

The chickens have come home to roast. For Charles Giunta that's a good thing.

A ruling today by Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein gave Giunta the right to sell hot rotisserie chicken from his stall at the Reading Terminal Market, Giunta's Prime Shop.

Giunta had been seeking to sell the cooked birds for more than a year, but was turned down by RTM General Manager Paul Steinke on the basis that Giunta's lease did not permit him to sell hot foods. Giunta sued the market and today Judge Bernstein ruled from the bench that there's nothing in the lease to prevent the butcher from selling the rotisserie chicken.

The market's board holds a regular meeting tomorrow and will consider whether or not to appeal.

Steinke said Giunta's lease was written to allow the vendor to sell pre-cooked meats for consumption at home as well as prepared meats (for instance, stuffed meats) for cooking at home, much as Harry Ochs & Sons does.

Also influencing Steinke's initial rejection of Giunta's request was concern it would harm the existing business of another merchant, Dienner's Bar-B-Q, which deals primarily in rotisserie chicken.

The suit has been simmering for about a year, but unlike the highly publicized and emotional battle with Rick Olivieri of Rick's Steaks, which took on the dimensions of the personalities involved, this was "strictly business". It totally lacked the histrionics of the earlier case which resulted in a settlement in the market's favor in which Olivieri left the market.

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