The Real Deal Miami

S&S Diner’s relocation doomed by Miami’s building boom: lawsuits

Losing customers and unable to pay rent allegedly due to neighboring construction on Biscayne 27, historic restaurant closes as lawsuits fly
By Francisco Alvarado |
Research by Haru Coryne
November 05, 2018 08:45AM

S&S Diner and Biscayne 27 rendering

Two years after moving from its longtime Miami home on Northeast Second Avenue, S&S Diner has been kicked out of its current location at 2699 Biscayne Boulevard amid a three-way legal battle with its landlord and the developer of a neighboring mixed-use project, Biscayne 27.

Alexis Read, the attorney for landlord Biscayne Rentals, said S&S was evicted from the premises last week. “We did try to work with the tenant,” Read, of counsel with Dunn Law P.A., said. “But Biscayne Rentals has obligations and carrying costs.”

Biscayne Rentals is controlled by Juan Carlos Cachoua, a Mexican businessman who runs Italianni’s, a large chain of restaurants.

In addition to evicting S&S, Biscayne Rentals filed a separate lawsuit against the Richman Group, the developer of Biscayne 27, an eight-story apartment building with ground floor retail and a garage rising between 27th Street and 28th Street on Biscayne Boulevard.

Biscayne Rentals alleges that its tenants have suffered business losses, while its property has depreciated in value due to the heavy construction taking place next door. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” Read said. “The city and Richman should have had a cleaner site plan. We hope to find a resolution through the lawsuit.”

An attorney for the Richman Group refuted Read’s claims. “The Richman Group has constructed its new Edgewater project in accordance with all city of Miami regulations and received all necessary permits,” said Ryan Bailine, a Greenberg Traurig shareholder. “ We are committed to being good neighbors and look forward to opening in the Spring of 2019.”

Biscayne Rentals claims 27th street is often obstructed or blocked off since construction began, resulting in safety hazards and accidents. In addition, its property’s parking lot is inaccessible, Biscayne Rentals alleges. The lawsuit accuses Richman of maintaining a “disorganized, cluttered, unkept and unsafe” construction site.

For instance, construction debris is constantly falling on the 2699 property and large construction equipment too narrow to fit on 27th street continuously trespasses the four-space commercial building, according to the suit.

Meanwhile, S&S is separately suing the Richman Group and Biscayne Rentals over the Biscayne 27 construction problems, too. The lawsuit alleges that since construction began in May, S&S suffered a substantial decrease in business and its customers have been unable to park in a surface lot for the 2699 property or surrounding streets.

“The loss of business is due to the annoying and disruptive noise, dust, dirt, closures, lack of parking, lack of use of the premises all due to the construction project,” the S&S lawsuit states. “Since July 2017, as a consequence from the road closure and construction, the diner has had a substantial loss in business and thereby, it cannot afford to pay its rent to the landlord.”

S&S attorney Tammi Calarco said Biscayne Rentals and Richman did not give her clients warning that the diner would be moving next to a construction site. “S&S was forced to shut its doors,” she said. “The owners have no money to pay anything. They were left broke.”

In September, Biscayne Rentals filed an eviction lawsuit against S&S and its owners Simon Albaz and Maria Linares. They signed a five-year lease that stipulated a monthly rent of $6,000, plus $1,457 in other costs, including insurance and property taxes, according to the complaint.

But S&S fell behind on its rent payments and Biscayne Rentals gave the diner a rent abatement of $33,148 on March 2018. Still, Elbaz and Linares were not able to keep up with the rent and have not paid it since June 1, the eviction lawsuit states.

In addition to reclaiming the space, Biscayne Rentals is suing for damages and attorney fees.

For nearly 80 years, S&S served up comfort food at 1757 Northeast Second Avenue. But the owners were forced to find a new home in 2016 after their previous landlord declined to honor a lease extension until 2019.

Calarco said her clients don’t have funds to reopen the diner at another location.