Eateries Forced Out by Soaring Rents
By: Lisa Fickenscher
January 19th, 2009
Drastic declines in business are affecting a growing number of owners to the point where they end up in court. Real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, who represents both tenants and landlords, spends most days in civil court on Centre Street. His caseload involves more and more eviction proceedings against restaurants.
“Many of them signed expensive leases over the past few years that they can’t afford, or they are suffering because their business has fallen off,” Mr. Bailey says.
One case that’s winding its way through the courts involves Itzocan Cafe, a well-reviewed Mexican eatery on East Ninth Street. But positive reviews couldn’t help the cafe when business trailed off this summer. The owners missed rent payments and now owe about $22,000 in back rent, according to court documents. The landlord wants its tenant out. Expansions have also backfired. The owners of Agata & Valentina, who two years ago added a restaurant across the street from their successful gourmet food market, soon found themselves in a mess. “The restaurant wasn’t doing [enough] volume,” says Sarah Taylor, the company’s executive project manager. “We kept extending our deadline to see what would happen to make it worthwhile.” The eatery shut its doors for good on Jan. 8.