The Real Deal New York

150 Nassau board (grand) slams Denny’s in $10M lawsuit

Residents miffed that chain will bring "rowdy" college kids to historic building
By David Jones | June 06, 2013 06:00PM

UPDATED, 10:11 a.m., June 7: The condominium board of a landmarked building at 150 Nassau Street filed suit for up to $10 million yesterday to block a Denny’s restaurant from operating at the site’s commercial space. Meanwhile, the restaurant’s would-be landlord has vowed to bring it to the building.

The board, which manages operations at the historic American Tract Society Building across from City Hall, is asking a New York State Supreme Court judge to block the 24-hour restaurant from operating out of the building, amid fears that it will attract disruptive crowds and violate the structural integrity of the site with required renovations.

The owners of the commercial space, Babaev Group, a Jamaica, N.Y.-based real estate fund, agreed to lease it to Denco Enterprises, a Whittier, Calif.-based franchisee that operates 27 of the fast food restaurants around the country, according to the suit.

The 125-unit building, which was constructed in 1895 and converted to condos in 2002, is home to numerous families, who are not keen to deal with the college-age clientele that Denny’s apparently attracts in the wee hours, the suit says. A unit is currently on the market for $1.45 million, StreetEasy shows.

“In stark contrast to the dignity and storied character of this quiet, residential, family-oriented building, Denny’s is a fast food chain synonymous with a late night party atmosphere, as well as drunk, disorderly, violent and criminal conduct,” said the complaint, filed by Gabriel Levinson, a partner at Tarter, Krinsky and Drogin.

Denco Enterprises officials were not immediately available for comment.

Babaev officials said they have not yet received the complaint, but added that they expected to prevail against the condo board.

“We’ll defend it vigorously,” Meir Babaev, owner of the Babaev Group, told The Real Deal. “We’re going to have a Denny’s in the building one day.”

Construction plans were submitted to the Department of Buildings between January and March, and stated that the structural stability of the building would be affected by the planned work, according to the complaint. The DOB found that the plans were out of compliance and rejected them, the complaint says.

“Construction plans were disapproved for multiple reasons, including incomplete zoning analysis,” DOB press secretary Kelly Magee told TRD via email. “In order to obtain an approval, the applicant must submit revised paperwork in order to comply with the Building Code and Zoning Resolution.”

The franchise operator also applied to serve liquor at the restaurant, and only withdrew its application to the New York State Liquor Authority after the condo board publicly fought against it, the suit claims.

The condo board also alleged that the restaurant will block the building’s handicapped entrance, emit odors and ultimately cause the board’s insurance rates to spike.

  • Jyuna

    When will condo boards stop wasting time and money with these frivilous lawsuits? Let the Dennys occupy the space. Its time we celebrate life instead of resist it.

  • DanM4665

    Couldn’t agree more with you… And why is the Condo Board making it look like if you eat at Denny’s your automatically a criminal?? Hey condo board, I eat at Denny’s and I’m NOT a criminal, drunk, or a club goer!


    I live in the neighborhood and welcome an affordable eating establishment like Denny’s.

  • D4893

    Denny’s is not a fast food chain, nor does it have a “party atmosphere” as suggested by Mr. Levinson. It would be an extraordinary upgrade in quality over the many 24 hour delis open in lower Manhattan. Mr. Levinson sounds as if he is describing a nightclub rather than a restaurant.

  • Finn Egan

    Yes that’s right the condo board is saying it’s criminal to eat at Denny’s, what an idiotic irresponsible comment. They are saying they don’t want violent drunken idiots from all over Manhattan and the other 4 boroughs near their children and the Spruce Street school, which my kids attend and is less than 500 yards away. Any of you people can go to Fulton Street for cheap food and leave OUR KIDS ALONE!

  • PeytonPrano

    This neighborhood is far from residential. Its alongside Pace Univ and a 1/2 block off City Hall. This building is in the neighborhood known as ‘Civic Center’, and aside from the Gehry building around the corner, there isn’t much residential there. Its not Tribeca nor the financial district. While it gradually may be moving towards more residential, to me, its the perfect locale for a Denny’s. While this lawsuit may delay things , they should be very careful to ‘lock horns’ with a very deep pocketed adversary who undoubtedly will fight this tooth and nail.

    • Manny

      The neighborhood is heavily residential.

  • LouD

    Isn’t Denny’s the perfect compliment to this neighborhood? I work at City Hall and can’t wait to eat there. Its cheap and good.

  • LawrenceGaines

    Big fan of Denny’s. ..and since when is Denny’s associated with a party atmosphere? IF anything , wouldn’t Denny’s enhance the neighborhood? ..and create a more family friendly environment. I hope it happens. I’d love to bring the little ones for breakfast or even an inexpensive dinner. It would be a welomed addition.

  • Chris516

    The allegations that Denny’s has a party atmosphere is consistent with that of the IHOP on 14th st in Manhattan. Given that this IHOP has a bouncer come night time, the implication that this would bring a night life atmosphere is not a reach

  • JFP

    Hmmm. This is a terrible location for a chain restaurant serving obesity-fare because 1) the residents above don’t want it there and 2) after 6 pm there’s almost no foot traffic around there which means 3) the only customers besides Pace kids would drive there, and there’s no parking 4) there’s already a virtual, mall-like food court along Fulton, from Broadway to Gold street, where tourists and Pace kids inflict diabetes upon themselves 24/7 at Five Guys, Chipotle, etc. A Dennys would kill over there.

    I can only think Dennys likes this location because of 1) Pace 2) the proximity of the Brooklyn Bridge off ramp, so the outer boroughs’ hungriest can get there fast and 3) Branding – Dennys is garbage food, and trying to shed their downscale image, esp their racist past. What better than a NYC location in a landmarked building?

    • JDS

      I’m literally sitting at a Denny’s as I write this. I’m currently eating a Turkey Club Sandwich. Hardly fast food, nor is it exactly bad for you. There’s two families in here, and a couple that are on what appears to be a date. It’s quiet, there’s free wifi, and it’s not a bad spot to grab a bite.

      I can’t tell if you just haven’t been to a Denny’s in the last five years, or you’re just intentionally making stuff up. Either way, you’re talking out of your ass.

  • john

    we live in a condup with a diner in it – not too different from dennys. rats, mice, insects, and food smells 24 / 7 is the result. it devalues the total asset by its presence.

    they should have a case. fast food restaurants are bad for the real estate around them. the cash goes to the franchise owner, and the rest of the owners have a depreciated asset.

  • Manny

    Regardless of what kind of food Denny’s serves, it’s a travesty to put a chain restaurant into a lovely building like that.

  • BigApple

    “….amid fears that it will attract disruptive crowds and violate the structural integrity of the site with required renovations.”

    Gee, then why live in NYC? Why live in Manhattan? Just move to the suburbs and that way you wont experience any crowds. I mean c’mon, you live in NYC what do you expect?

  • S.Bonilla

    I love Dennys food and i havent gain a pound by eating often,,,,,,so pleeeease i would like to see a DENNYS in NEW YORK CITY area,,,,where EVER….