Restaurateur Max Burgio files suit against landlord at brand new hotspot

By Katherine Clarke | November 04, 2013 12:48PM

Barely a month after opening his high-end Italian eatery in Midtown, noted restaurateur Max Burgio is tangled up in an eviction dispute with landlord Friedland Properties over allegedly unpaid rent.

Burgio, a former nightclub owner and host of the private club upstairs at Cipriani in Soho, invested $2 million in renovating the three-story space at 14 East 58th Street into B & Co, which has quickly attracted the city’s fashion crowd, according to a lawsuit filed by Burgio in New York State Supreme Court late last month.

But Burgio says investment firm Friedland is now claiming he owes close to $350,000 in back rent. In an Oct. 16 notice, Friedland threatened to evict the restaurant if it doesn’t cough up the funds.

The dispute centers on a disagreement over when the 2012 lease for the premises officially took effect. Burgio claims it was later than expected because Friedland failed to deliver the premises vacant or provide timely asbestos documentation.

Indeed, Friedland left the building an “absolute mess” following the departure of the previous tenant, trendy restaurant Pop Burger, thus delaying the opening of the eatery by six months, Burgio claims.

Burgio is asking a judge to issue an injunction preventing Friedland from taking any steps to terminate the lease or repossess the building, according to the complaint.

Neither Friedland nor an attorney for Burgio immediately responded to requests for comment.

Burgio was in discussions with designer Roberto Cavalli and Italian entrepreneur Flavio Briatore about opening the restaurant as a joint venture last year, but eventually opted to go solo, as previously reported. The 80-seat restaurant has a private club on the third floor.

Friedland has owned the property since the 1980s, public records show.