Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cornelia Street Cafe


Yesterday, New York State Assemblymember Deborah Glick tweeted:

"I try not to curse but the Damn Landlord of the Cornelia Street Cafe sent an eviction notice to treasured 40yr old gem @BilldeBlasio HELP!!"

We've been hearing rumblings about the possible demise of Cornelia for awhile now. Just this month, the beloved cafe celebrated its 40th anniversary, "with some concerns," as the Times put it. They wrote:

"Mr. Hirsch [the owner] and his team are sweating now... Their rent for the restaurant and basement space, at $33,000 a month, is 77 times what it was when the club opened (that’s not adjusting for inflation — but, in the name of consistency, they’re not charging $77 for a croissant)."

Back in March, DNAInfo reported that the cafe was struggling--especially with landlord Mark Scharfman, "a frequent fixture on various 'Worst Landlord' lists."

"If I'm 10 minutes late with my rent, he threatens me with eviction," Hirsch told the blog.

If Glick's tweet is accurate, the axe has come down.

photo: Wikipedia

I was unable to reach restaurant management for comment or confirmation, so we don't know the details of this case.

City-wide, in general, there are zero protections for good small businesses when it comes time for lease renewals. The landlord can refuse a new lease or jack up the rent so high, it's basically an eviction.

This is why the City Council must pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a solid first step. The majority of councilmembers support the bill--they just have to bring it to a vote. If we'd had it years ago, when it was first proposed, there would be a lot more left of New York's vanishing soul.


RMAN said...

I had my first legal drink at the Cornelia Street Cafe a long time ago - then stayed for the country foie gras and listened to Patsy Cline playing from the bar's tape deck. I think Mike was the bartender, don't recall.

This perpetual greed needs to be addressed - NYC real estate laws and the tax code need to be changed to discourage this gouging of long time reliable businesses. I hope Cornelia Street Cafe remains!

Brian said...

This is a New York new artist institution, the owner was nice enough 20 years ago to look at my work right off the street and let me exhibit at no charge on his walls for a month just because he wanted to give artists a break. And no, my work was average at best, it was because he saw it would mean a lot to me, and it did.

the streamer said...

We are not dead yet. Eviction notice has been filed by the landlord. The claim is that the owner did not deliver the full rent as dictated by court papers on the 5th of every month via certified check. The fact is that the rent bill did not arrive as it should have on or before the start of July. The owner, afraid of waiting and running into legal issues, delivered the rent as requested via certified check for the amount he had been paying since April of 2017 on July 5th.

On July 7th, the rent bill was delivered and left with someone at the Cafe, the bill had a series of additional charges that the owner did not expect. So instead of allowing him to pay the additional concocted charges on the bill, they issued an eviction notice claiming that he did not pay the full amount.

Obviously, had he been a mind reader he would have been able to. But since he is not, he should at least be allowed to pay the additional amounts, rather than eviction being the only alternative. The owner has requested an itemized and detailed billed that identifies each new charge so that he has this for his tax records, his lawyers have now been waiting for the landlord's lawyers to return a call which has gone unanswered for the last two days. They are wrong and they know it, but they are trying to find anyway to close the Cafe down because they don't like the press coverage and they don't like the fact that more journalists are looking into their bad business practices. Shutting down the Cafe means the press will have nothing to investigate.

All the owner wants right now is to be treated fairly. This Cafe has provided NYC with a wonderful legacy, it is an artistic platform where artists are embraced and given a stage to practice their craft. If you look down Cornelia Street, the one block area was a once blooming restaurant row, now shuttered store fronts are becoming a trade mark landmark. We cannot afford to lose small businesses like Cornelia Street Cafe that help to grow our tourist trade and give the city its character.

The city should protect small businesses, in the end, they prove to be the backbone of the city.

adrienne altenhaus said...

Wake up New York City and Mayor DeBlasio!
Save the Cornelia st cafe now! Protect the west village , east village and environs from landlord sharks!!! Enough is enough!

Scout said...

Restaurants/bars I miss:
Jimmy Ray's and JR's
Universal Grill & Mary's
The Mayfair
Uncle Charlie's (Greenwich and Midtown)
The GH Club
The original 7A
The original Wa Wa Hut
Paris Bistro
And too many more to even think about...