PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A craft brewery says it may lose a great deal on rent because a framing shop lost its photo of a clam chowder maven, naked in a bathtub, which the brewery must "forever display" under its rental deal with the late Mo Neimi, "founder of the famous Mo's Clam Chowder."
Oregon Brewing Company, maker of Rogue Ales, demands about $51,000 in damages from Frame Central, a dba of Washington-based New NWF LLC.
The brewery and distillery - which also makes rum, whiskey and gin - got a deal from Mohave "Mo" Neimi in 1986, when it rented the space of its brewery in Newport, on the Oregon coast.
Neimi rented the brewery the place "at a very generous price on two conditions: 1) that a photograph of Mo, naked in a bathtub, be forever displayed at the property and 2) that OBC 'feed the fisherman' (i.e. give back to the local community).
"Since Mo's passing in 1992, OBC continues to rent the property from Mo's estate subject to the above two conditions.
"OBC has complied with the first condition since 1986 (for over 25 years) by displaying the photograph in its original frame and glass over the bar at the property," according to the complaint in Multnomah County Court. (Parentheses in complaint.)
But a fly appeared in the beer in August 2010, when the brewery hired Frame Central to "clean, refurbish and restore" the saucy photo. The brewery says it dropped the picture off and asked for 10 copies to display at its outlets in Oregon, Washington and California.
When the brewery returned for the photo 4 months later, it had gone missing.
"To date, defendant has failed to and refuses to return the original photograph," the complaint states.
Oregon Brewing seeks damages for breach of contract, conversion and negligence. It says Frame Central failed to store, safeguard, track, maintain, care for and keep the photo.
Mo Neimi, a "crusty, big-hearted chain-smoking mother," died in 1992, her company's website proclaims.
Oregon Brewing named a beer in her honor: MoM Ale, originally Mo's Ale, a hefeweizen-style brew, features her portrait. Its label states: "Brewed in honor of Mo & Dutch Niemi whose spirit indelibly shapes the vibrant daily life of the Newport waterfront and our entire community."
Mo and Dutch Niemi, a Finnish fisherman, were married for 36 years. Mo Neimi made her rent agreement with Oregon Brewing's founder Jack Joyce.
"All we had to do was hang that godawful picture of her in her French bathtub - naked," Joyce said, according to the Internet magazine Beer Notes. "That was the deal. Ever take that down, and the rent goes up!"
The brewery is represented by Andrew Glascock with Hiefield Foster & Glascock.
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