Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Expanding So. Brooklyn

In 2008, former East Villager Kati Duncan began turning the 45-year-old Ukrainian packing and shipping shop Cosmos Parcels on 1st Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets into a jazz cafe called La Rokara. The work was never completed and Duncan, with a 25-year lease, sublet the space instead to South Brooklyn Pizza.

Now, Duncan told JVNY, she and South Brooklyn Pizza are in a legal brawl.

2000?, detail from Jim & Karla Murray

In September 2010, the pizza mini-chain took over the space next door, formerly occupied by Ruben's Empanadas (and before that, by the Caprice Curls Beauty Salon). They put a part-time art gallery inside temporarily, and today the space is plywooded for South Brooklyn's expansion.

Kati Duncan is not happy. She wrote in an email, "The trouble now is that Jim [South Brooklyn's owner] took over the Rubens Empanadas location adjacent to Rokara (without telling us), and has taken down the wall between the two stores (also done without our knowledge even though we hold a 25 year lease there). So now we're in court."


In the Memorandum of Law, as written by Duncan's lawyer and forwarded by Duncan, it states: "Plaintiff [South Brooklyn Pizza], a real estate developer and now restaurateur, coveted Rokara’s [Duncan's] primary lease from the beginning, saw that Rokara was a distressed business and had no income and little experience, and seized the opportunity to squeeze Rokara out of its valuable leasehold."

Duncan's lawyer says that South Brooklyn Pizza is "encouraging the Overlandlord to bring an eviction proceeding" against her, so they can take over the lease.

Duncan says she hopes to keep her lease, but "I don't know if that's possible now that the two stores are one."

More about this block:
1st at 7th and 8th
Kurowycky Meats
Kim's Is Coming


JAZ said...

If I'm not mistaken, the owner of South Brooklyn Pizza (Jim) is also a Real Estate Developer. Unfortunately, we've seen over and over that we should expect the worst from those milling about in NYC while holding that job title.

Place looked way better with Caprice Curls and Cosmos Parcels, but of course there isn't room for as many Ukrainian storefronts now that the area is 'officially hip'. It's a shame La Rokara never got off the ground - I'm sure it would have been way better for the neighborhood than a chain where 2 slices and a coke isn't covered with a 10 dollar bill.

Anonymous said...

Same issue with Kate's on Ave B - how long can you expect a landlord to subsidize the business of an incapable entrepreneur - 25 years? SBP was in the wrong and Duncan should receive some compensation, but she should also exit gracefully and let this successful business grow.

Jeremiah Moss said...

JAZ, i've tried the pizza in this place. it tastes good, but the process you have to go through just to get a single slice is almost Terry Gilliamesque. you have to wait for each pizza to be made, then there's a lot of slow drizzling and careful placing of basil leaves...and then the pricetag. it's not for me.

Grand St. said...

I think they opened another branch on Bleecker near McDougal a while back. I tried it and I agree, Jeremiah - it was okay, but not 4 bucks okay. Didn't prove too popular as there's now one of those funky dollar pizza joints at the same location. (Wonder if this is still real estate guy, taking a stab at a different clientele.)

...and who eats chocolate chip cookies with pizza? "You need a hook." SMH.

Anonymous said...

This is the owner of SBP...

Occupy EV said...

James McGowan (aka James McGown and perhaps other aliases) is a notorious real estate developer. He is responsible for the tribeca controversy. Ms. Johnson stated her position in great detail in her legal papers filed in court. There is a lot more too this dispute between Mr. McGowan and Ms. Johnson than what appears on the surface.

glamma said...

Wow. That is so f*cked up.
"exit gracefully?"
they shamlessly (and illegally) plotted to steal the woman's lease out from under her in the most ruthless and slimy way possible.
and you say she should
"exit gracefully???"