Judge Rules that Pier 17 Holdout, Simply Seafood, Can Be Evicted

Simply Seafood owners John Demane and son Joseph, who are being evicted from their eatery in the Pier 17 mall. They've occupied the pier's third-floor food court since 1995. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Nov. 14, 2013

UPDATED 11/17/13

It’s decided: Simply Seafood must go.

On Wednesday, a state Supreme Court judge ruled that the small eatery, a holdout at the condemned and otherwise deserted Pier 17 mall, can be evicted by its landlord, the Howard Hughes Corp. 

In his decision, Judge Shlomo Hagler wrote that South Street Seaport Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Hughes Corp., the pier’s leaseholder, is “entitled to possession” of the 550-square-foot space.

Owners John and Joseph Demane, who had run Simply Seafood in the mall’s third-floor food court since 1995, were locked out of the mall as of Friday, Nov. 15, according to Joseph.

The Demanes had disputed the terms of their lease, which they claimed was valid until 2020. But the judge ruled that the owners had been in default of their lease and therefore lost the right to renew it. The judge has yet to determine how much Simply Seafood owes the developer in back rent, interest and utilities. Hughes claims that amount exceeds $1 million.

The Hughes Corp. can now go forward with plans to demolish the mall and replace it with a $200-million, glass-walled shopping center.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the developer said, “While the Howard Hughes Corporation inherited this situation from the previous landlords, we are pleased that it has been resolved after a long and arduous process.”

Demane said he came into work on Thursday, the day after the judgment, and served some customers, though "my heart wasn't in it." The next day, he said, he was not let in and his equipment was moved to a loading dock.

“It’s disheartening,” Joseph Demane said of the decision. “Nothing we said really resonated with the judge. We were willing to work with [Hughes], but obviously they had their own plan.”