New York City’s landmark restaurant Delmonico’s is mired in a legal battle with its landlord who is threatening the restaurant with eviction for not paying rent — but the 185-year-old establishment says it isn’t going anywhere.
The historic Financial District restaurant — which has been closed for over two years — was served with an eviction notice earlier this year that states that Delmonico’s owes the building’s landlord nearly $300,000 in unpaid rent and other fees. However, the restaurant’s ownership says that the grounds for eviction are baseless.
Natalia Grgurev, the daughter of co-owner Ferdo Grgurev and a member of Delmonico’s management team, says that the family purposefully stopped paying rent at the restaurant due to ongoing issues with the space. The building was damaged due to flooding during Hurricane Ida last September and the landlord has yet to fully repair the establishment, according to Natalia. Because the issues were not resolved, “we triggered certain lease rights regarding our rent obligations and are now involved in the present litigation,” Natalia said in an email statement to Eater. The restaurant had been previously paying its full rent up until last fall, she said.
The landlord, Time Equities, first served the restaurant with a 14-day eviction notice at the end of January, according to documents filed with the New York State Supreme Court. The deadline was delayed as the parties tussled in court over whether the eviction proceedings were valid. In early April, the judge on the case ruled to impose a temporary restraining order on the landlord to block them from taking any immediate action to evict Delmonico’s.
Time Equities has “taken every step in coordinating with Delmonico’s on this issue, despite the fact that they have not paid rent in seven months,” CEO and chairman Francis Greenburger said in an email statement. “We have been working closely with our engineer and the city to rectify the water damage downtown that was caused by Hurricane Ida, which has been communicated to the tenant. We are hopeful that we can come to a solution with Delmonico’s and repair the conflict.”
The restaurant, for its part, also wants to remain in its storied space. “We are committed to staying in our historic home at 56 Beaver Street, and are confident that we can come to a solution with Time Equities that addresses the issues and allows us to get back on track with our intended renovations,” Natalia said in a statement.
Delmonico’s has been shuttered since March 2020 due to both the pandemic and a separate legal battle over ownership of the space. Brothers Ferdo and Omer Grgurev secured full ownership of the space after a lawsuit between four owners was ruled in their favor in Spring 2021. Natalia told Eater at the time that the Grgurevs planned to reopen the restaurant by the end of last year.
That opening never happened. Delmonico’s remained closed throughout last winter, and the family has paused plans to update the menu and the space amid the ongoing litigation between Delmonico’s and the building’s landlord. “We’re still hopeful that we will get a longterm lease from our current landlord so we can move forward with these plans that we have,” Natalia said in a separate phone call on the matter.
The lavish steakhouse, said to be America’s first fine dining restaurant, first opened in 1837. In the nearly 200 years since, Delmonico’s has served a slew of presidents and is credited with inventing eggs Benedict and baked Alaska on its premises. It has changed ownership only four times throughout its history, according to Natalia. The Grgurev family took over the restaurant nearly 25 years ago, in 1998.
“We are trying to be super positive about moving forward,” Natalia said. “Just to be open again — that’s all we want.”
Update: April 11, 2022, 5 p.m.: This article was updated to include additional comments from Natalia Grgurev and a statement from Time Equities CEO and chairman Francis Greenburger.
Update: April 12, 2022, 4:30 p.m.: Francis Greenburger’s statement was updated to reflect that Delmonico’s has not paid rent for seven months, not nine.