NYC landlord sues city over unlicensed food trucks

Suit demands $1M in damages after street vendors killed business

Upper West Side Pizza Joint Skips Rent, Landlord Sues City
(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

A pizzeria stopped paying rent after allegedly unlicensed street vendors set up shop outside their property. But instead of going after the tenant for the unpaid rent, the landlords are suing the city. 

The landlord, the Aryeh family’s Rymsbran Continental, and its LLC at 2341-59 Broadway are asking for $930,000 in damages, claiming the city’s failure to chase away the vendors allegedly hurt their tenants’ business. 

According to the complaint, the vendors took potential customers from the pizza shop and another tenant, leading both to demand rent concessions, which the landlord granted. Eventually, the pizza joint left the property anyway, and the space remains empty.

Street vendors have long been the bane of landlords, retailers, and the business improvement districts who represent them. They claim food carts have lower barriers to entry, often operate without the proper licenses and siphon customers from brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Rymsbran says it began complaining to various city agencies — including Consumer Affairs, Sanitation, and Health and Mental Hygiene, and police — in September 2022, when its tenants first began asking for rent concessions. The carts moved in during lunch time Monday through Saturday, less than a block from the pizza parlor.

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The pizzeria owners, claiming the vendors detracted from their business, asked for a $12,000 monthly rent concession. Rymsbran granted the concession for 15 months, forsaking $180,000, but the pizza place closed its doors anyway. The shop has remained empty ever since, and the plaintiffs claim they’ve lost out on $540,000 in rent. 

The landlord granted a $14,000 monthly rent concession to another tenant, a grocery store, for 15 months, totaling $210,000. The vacant pizza shop and continued rent concessions at the grocery store are causing continuing monthly losses of $62,000, the suit asserts. 

The lawsuit demands compensatory damages from the city as well removal of the allegedly unlicensed vendors. Rymsbran faces long odds, however, given that it voluntarily granted the rent concessions. 

The complaint alleges the Consumer Affairs, Sanitation and Health departments were negligent and failed to enforce regulations.

The plaintiff’s attorney said it was too early to comment, as the city has yet to respond to the complaint. The city did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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