UPDATES: After suing tenant, former Zesto owner alleges hairstylist paid competing business

The former owner of Mitchell's Zesto told city council on May 16 that she's heard her tenant paid a food truck to park outside to eatery.

Shown here is the Zesto parking lot where a Nebraska food truck recently parked.
Sam Fosness Republic

MITCHELL — A Mitchell woman claims that after suing a renter of hers who operates a neighboring business, the tenant intentionally organized a food truck to station outside her daughter’s eatery.

During the Mitchell City Council’s May 16 regular meeting, Roxie Ackman, former owner of Mitchell’s Zesto, used a period of public commentary to request the council explore options limiting where food trucks can operate. Ackman said a food truck was selling product just feet away from Zesto recently.

“A couple weeks ago on a Thursday, I get to work and we have a food truck parked two feet from [Zesto’s] picnic area,” Ackman told the council on May 16. “I’m calling everyone thinking this can’t be happening.”

After realizing there’s no ordinance preventing food trucks from operating on city-owned parking lots, Ackman told the council she believes a neighboring hairstylist, whom Ackman is suing, paid the food truck to operate next to Zesto — which is now owned by Ackman’s daughter.

“As far as I know and what I’ve heard, I’m actually in a lawsuit with the lady that rents my building where my beauty shop used to be, and she hired this guy to come down there into a city parking lot to sell,” Ackman said.


According to property records, Ackman owns the lot at 212 W. First Ave. in Mitchell, where two businesses operate: Zesto and Hair Mania.

According to a civil lawsuit filed in Davison County, Ackman asked the court to order an eviction of Jennifer Jackson and her business, Hair Mania, in September 2021, after Jackson allegedly failed to pay rent in accordance with a lease agreement and “may have caused large amounts of damage” to the property.

In a response to the allegations, Jackson claims she and Ackman agreed to deviate from a standard rent payment agreement toward an installment-style agreement, thus forfeiting Ackman’s right to terminate the lease based on the timeliness of rent paid.

In June of 2021, Jackson said she became aware that she was paying utility costs of a security light located on the property that provided no benefit to her business. She began deducting the cost of the light’s power usage from her rent payments — which Jackson alleges Ackman began refusing to accept.

“Prior to the end of August 2021, Jackson attempted to make her September rent payment to [Ackman], but [Ackman] has refused to accept the same,” Jackson’s filing reads. “Jackson stands ready to make such payment, as well as future payments which may come due if this matter is still pending.”

After coming upon a food truck parked directly next to her former Zesto restaurant in downtown Mitchell, Roxie Ackman called on city leaders to restrict the mobile food businesses from parking in city-owned lots.

In response to Ackman’s claim that Jackson may have caused significant damage to the building, Jackson claimed she and Ackman came to an agreement that allowed her to install a temporary wall and repair miscellaneous electrical features.

After initial arguments were submitted to the court in September, the case was heard before a jury in November. The jury found Jackson had violated the terms of the lease, but contended that she was justified in her violations. In December, a judgment was issued noting that eviction was not warranted in the case.

On May 9, over five months after the judgment was entered, Jackson alleged that Ackman has been “tortiously” interfering with her business by failing to make expeditious repairs, intentionally had snow plowed into handicapped parking spots and caused her to lose clients through her appearances in the building, while Ackman claimed Jackson continues to violate the lease by failing to follow court orders.


The case continues to make its way through the Davison County court circuit, as the parties will meet again on June 15 for a motions hearing.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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