LEWISTON — A partner in the development of a downtown cafe in the historic Grand Trunk Railway depot is suing owner Karen Pulkkinen, claiming she has misused the $150,000 he invested.

The complaint, filed by Stephen Dick of Richmond, Texas, asks Androscoggin Superior Court to put him in charge of Last Trip, doing business as Grand Trunk Railway Cafe.

The complaint would prohibit Pulkkinen from further involvement in the operation. The complaint was filed Monday in Superior Court in Auburn.

Pulkkinen on Tuesday declined to comment on the complaint, in which Dick said he invested $150,000 in the operation in October 2013 in exchange for a 49 percent minority ownership share. Pulkkinen retained a controlling 51 percent share.

Dick’s complaint said he made that investment based on Pulkkinen’s claims that she had invested $190,284 of her own money into the operation. He now says Pulkkinen’s claims were false and were intended to convince him to invest.

According to the complaint, $140,000 of his investment was supposed to cover remaining startup costs. The last $10,000 was meant as a cushion and cash infusion.

Instead, the complaint said, $41,700 was used to pay back expenses. Those included $26,000 in back debt to food service equipment supplier C. Capara, a $4,000 loan from Pulkkinen’s sister and $13,000 in back debt to other suppliers.

The complaint claims that Pulkkinen is drawing a $600 per week salary for the operation. 

It also alleges Pulkkinen “has used thousands of dollars of the money infused by Mr. Dick into Last Trip to pay off personal loans of Ms. Pulkkinen.”

The complaint stated Dick began noticing discrepancies in the corporation’s bank statement after making the October 2013 loan, but Pulkkinen assured him the money was all being spent on behalf of the business.

Dick is asking the court to dissolve the corporation or allow him to purchase Pulkkinen’s controlling shares and put him in charge of financial records. It would bar Pulkkinen from spending anything on behalf of the company without Dick’s written consent.

Pulkkinen has been trying for four years to renovate the historic building.

She been making monthly payments on the $21,000-per-year lease to building owners Lewiston-Auburn Railroad since January 2012. Pulkkinen said last week she intended to open the restaurant this year.

The building remains vacant, with windows boarded up and ongoing construction on the first-floor interior. A sign in front of the building advertises, “Grand Trunk Cafe, established 2012. Food and spirits.”

The building, at 103 Lincoln St., was built in 1874 and served as the landing spot for many of Lewiston-Auburn’s Canadian immigrants. It’s been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

The City of Lewiston and the Lewiston-Auburn Railroad began paying for renovations in 2010 with a $200,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and $115,800 of Lewiston’s Community Development Block Grant allocation. The railroad itself has paid about $65,000 to renovate the building.

The railroad opened negotiations with Pulkkinen in 2011 to turn the building into a restaurant, but issues with water leaking into the building slowed the talks.

Renovation work wrapped up in 2011 and Pulkkinen and the railroad signed the lease in October of that year, agreeing to pay $10 per square foot per year for the roughly 2,100-square-foot space.

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