Maggie’s owner threatens lawsuit against ETCA

Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe owner Kevin Goodchild threatened to sue the East Torresdale Civic Association during the group’s Oct. 8 meeting.

The battle between Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe and the East Torresdale Civic Association gained a new wrinkle last week when the restaurant’s owner threatened to sue the civic association.

During ETCA’s Oct. 8 meeting, Kevin Goodchild, of Maggie’s, said he hired a lawyer and told members of the civic association to look into a SLAPP lawsuit.

“Basically, you’re looking to sue us?” ETCA President Lew Halas asked Goodchild.

“Sue the civic association, yes,” Goodchild responded.

SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which are legal actions meant to silence community groups by burdening them with legal costs. Goodchild told the Times in an interview after the meeting that his attorneys recommended filing a SLAPP lawsuit against the civic association.

“They literally just come after me on everything,” he said. “Enough is enough.”

Goodchild said the ETCA has cost him thousands of dollars since Maggie’s opened nearly 11 years ago.

The ETCA is in the process of appealing a July decision by the Zoning Board of Adjustment to allow Maggie’s to operate an outdoor patio.

Prior to referencing a possible lawsuit, Goodchild told ETCA members that he had recently spoken with Sixth District City Councilman Bobby Henon and state Rep. Mike Driscoll about working on a community benefits agreement.

The agreements are typically contracts between developers and community groups that outline certain public benefits that the developer will provide to those in the neighborhood affected.

“I guess with the appeal, the civic isn’t interested in it,” Goodchild said.

ETCA members said they had not heard anything about a potential community benefits agreement.

In other news from the Oct. 8 ETCA meeting:

  • Halas announced that he will not be seeking another term as president of the civic association. Those in attendance clapped in recognition of his service. Vice president Bill Kennedy asked residents to consider nominations for the ETCA’s next president. The position is a one-year term beginning in January 2019.
  • Members of the civic association voted 31–0 in support of a proposed one-story addition to a twin house at 4503 Arendell Ave. The ZBA is scheduled to hear the property owner’s appeal Nov. 7.
  • Several events were announced during the Oct. 8 meeting. The Union League Golf Club at Torresdale, 3801 Grant Ave., will be hosting an open house Thursday, Oct. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • All Saints Church, 9601 Frankford Ave., will be hosting a graveyard tour and soup dinner Saturday, Oct. 20, from 3 to 6 p.m. Tours will be at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Soup will be served from 3 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 for tour or soup only and $8 for both.
  • The 8th Police District Advisory Council’s Fall Festival is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20, from noon to 4 p.m. at the district headquarters on Red Lion Road. The event will feature games, music, raffles, food, a haunted house and more. The rain date is Oct. 27.
  • The ETCA’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, at Liberty Free Evangelical Church, Milnor Street and Linden Avenue. ••

Jack Tomczuk can be reached at