Updated, 2:40 p.m., Aug. 15: A restaurateur claims a lawsuit brought by Sony seeking his eviction from 550 Madison Avenue is being supported by Joseph Chetrit, who along with David Bistricer purchased the 37-story tower in March, the New York Times reported.
Joseph Allaham, a longtime tenant at the Sony Building, has faced trouble from management ever since he opened Pizza da Solo, a kosher pizzeria next door to his Italian restaurant Solo, he told the Times. Sony — which will continue to anchor the building as the main retail tenant for two or more years and holds the restaurant’s lease — started eviction proceedings against Allaham shortly after they sold the building in March to a partnership headed by the Chetrit Group and Bistricer’s Clipper Equity for $1.1 billion.
Sony argued that the pizzeria increases the litter in public areas and violates the requirements of its lease. But Allaham told the Times that he hadn’t had trouble before the ownership changed, and suggested that Chetrit – who is looking to turn the building into a hotel-condominium tower – supported the eviction, which the restaurant is fighting. In March, Chetrit and his brother Meyer offered Allaham $500,000 to vacate the space within six months, according to Allaham.
What’s worse, Allaham added, Chetrit is a close personal friend of his, and their families have vacationed together.
“Imagine your best friend turning on you,” Allaham told the newspaper. “It’s awkward, and it’s painful. But I’m not going to leave.”
Chetrit did not respond to the Times’ requests for comment. Bistricer, however, disagreed Allaham’s account, insisting that no meeting took place between Allaham and Chetrit regarding the eviction.
“Why would we even want him out?” Bistricer said. “He’s paying a decent rent.” He did note, however, that the developers were considering high-end retail tenants for the building. [NYT] — Hiten Samtani