Pop star Lady Gaga’s father is refusing to pay the Metropolitan Transportation Authority $260,000 in rent and fees for his restaurant in Grand Central Terminal, citing a homeless problem, vermin and dated furniture and facilities.
Joe Germanotta, the owner of Art Bird & Whiskey Bar, wants the MTA to cancel his lease or renegotiate it, according to the Wall Street Journal. The transit agency sent him a letter this week saying it would begin action to repossess the space if he didn’t pay up.
“I want to stay,” Germanotta told the Journal. “I just can’t afford to under these conditions.”
If the parties cannot reach an agreement, Germanotta said, he would demand the MTA repay him the more than $1.5 million he put into building the restaurant, plus more for the loss of business. His lease expires in 2028.
Some business owners in the concourse say they are struggling because of outdated facilities, rodent infestations and loitering by homeless people. The MTA says that just a few businesses are struggling and sales throughout the dining concourse went up by 6.3 percent last year from 2018.
However, the MTA also released a report last summer in which it blamed a 3 percent decline in sales between 2017 and 2018 on homeless people at the terminal and an outdated design. Some 800,000 people pass through Grand Central every day. [WSJ] – Eddie Small