The saga of Shalom Chai is drawing to an end. The kosher pizzeria, which owes $86,000 in back rent to landlord Seward Park Co-op, has closed for good as of this morning. As we reported last week, the two parties appeared in city housing court on Thursday to try to resolve their dispute over rent and utility arrears dating back to March 2013. The judge gave the restaurant owner, David Tgar, until the end of the day Friday to pay the co-op $5,700, which was the rent due for the month of May 2014, said Peter Axelrod, the co-op’s attorney. As of Friday mid-afternoon, no check had arrived, Axelrod said. The co-op has been seeking to evict Shalom Chai for some time, first filing suit in October and reaching an agreement in April that the pizzeria would move out by July 31, under the condition that the current rent payments were made. When Tgar fell behind again last month, Seward Park moved to speed the timeline up.
“We want the space back,” Axelrod said Friday. “We have little expectation that any money will be paid.”
Meanwhile, an auction has been scheduled to liquidate the restaurant’s assets. Auctioneer Michael Amodeo will sell the kitchen equipment, furniture and fixtures tomorrow, June 17, beginning at noon, according to an ad, which reads:
KOSHER PIZZERIA & RESTAURANT
Like New Original Paint L800 Hobart Single Phase 80Qt Mixer w Attachments, 2 Bakers Pride 4 Pie Pizza Ovens, 6Ft Dough Retarder, Marc Self Contained 4Ft Deli Case, Garland 6 Burner Stove, Deep Fryers, 8Ft Bain Marie Salad Bar, Traulsen SS 2 Dr Refrigerator, 8×8 Walkin Refrigerator, 3 Drawer Bread Warmer, ElectroFreeze Slush Puppy Machine, 4Ft Dip Cabinet Ice Cream Case, 10 Sets 4 Seats Plymold Booths, Pizza Trays, Pots, Pans, Utensils & Much More.
Inspection: Day Of Sale 11AM to Sale Time.
Terms: Cash Or Bank Cashiers Checks Payable to MICHAEL AMODEO & CO., INC. 15% Buyers Premium.
Shalom Chai, the last sit-down kosher restaurant on the Lower East Side, has struggled to succeed in recent years. In addition to falling behind on rent and utilities for more than a year, the city’s health department has repeatedly cited it for multiple sanitary violations, including shutting it down for more than six weeks last spring.
The co-op board will now begin the search for a new commercial tenant. Earlier this year, the non-kosher Comfort Diner was chosen to replace Noah’s Ark Deli, a kosher restaurant a few doors down at 399 Grand St.
UPDATE, 6/17/14 @ 4 p.m.: Earlier today, a marshal’s notice dated today appeared on the door of the restaurant, before the start time of the auction, which was apparently canceled by the legal action. The notice indicated that the landlord, Seward Park Co-op, now has possession of the premises. This afternoon, we received the following statement from the co-op’s general manager, Frank Durant:
Shalom Chai, a long term tenant of Seward Park stopped paying rent in October 2013. The cooperative commenced a non payment proceeding against its tenant. The proceeding was settled by a written agreement negotiated between the cooperative and the pizzeria which, at all times, was represented by its own attorneys. The pizzeria failed to make agreed upon payments. The pizzeria thereafter returned to court asking for additional time to make the agreed upon payments. The court granted the pizzeria additional time to make the payments but no payments were forthcoming. As a result, the pizzeria was evicted on June 17, 2014. The cooperative has suffered a financial loss as no rent was paid during the 9 month period when the pizzeria continued to operate yet failed to make rental payments.