Landlord boots one of Times Square’s last music shops
Roberto’s Winds is fighting for $2 million over a wrongful lease termination
After rising rents shuttered the last of the famed music shops that spanned Time Square’s 48th Street, musicians seeking the once-bustling shopping scene frequented by legends like Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones were left with few options.
Roberto’s Winds, a 30-year standby for woodwind instruments, repairs and rehearsal space that did business with Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic, was one of the holdouts.
That is, until an eviction suit displaced that store from its 149 West 46th Street location.
Roberto’s Winds appears to have moved a few blocks south to 39th Street, but a civil case filed against its landlord shows it’s not letting the Covid-era eviction go unchallenged.
The music shop filed a suit against landlord Montague-Lee Limited Partnership this week, alleging the owner breached the terms of its lease when it prematurely terminated the agreement yet waited months to serve Roberto’s the termination papers.
The delay prevented the tenant from furnishing the extra security deposit the lease demanded in the event of a default, and left it with no option but to vacate the premises, the suit alleges.
Roberto’s locked in a commercial lease with a previous landlord in 2013 that extended through Oct. 31, 2022 and gave the music shop the option for a five-year extension, legal documents show.
When the pandemic hit, Roberto’s business, like most other retail shops, suffered. The store stopped paying rent in April 2020, racking up arrears through December of that year.
The music store’s lease included a provision for default, stating the landlord could demand an additional one-month security deposit if the tenant missed two months’ rent in a year.
But Roberto’s claims Montague-Lee never asked for that security deposit. Instead, the landlord allowed the music store to accrue arrears through December 2020, then served the tenant a notice indicating it had terminated its lease.
Roberto’s claims in legal documents its landlord “intentionally delayed” serving the notice “to make it virtually impossible … to comply with the aforementioned replenishment of one-month security provision.”
The landlord also filed an eviction suit against the owner, despite the moratorium on commercial evictions.
Roberto’s tried to pay off the debt after it received $300,000 from New York’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.
The owner benefitted from federal PPP dollars, but the suit alleges the landlord refused to accept that money or any other form of repayment.
Left with no alternative, Roberto’s vacated its 46th Street storefront in September.
The music store has now asked the court to award it $2 million in damages.
Roberto’s counsel was not immediately available for a request for comment. Montague-Lee could not be reached for comment.