Artisanal Owes TF Cornerstone $24M in Rent for Never-Opened Restaurant


Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro is on the hook for over $24 million in rent for a Park Avenue South space in which it never opened, according to a new court ruling.

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge issued a decision yesterday against Artisanal, holding the cheese-focused brasserie liable for all rent plus estimated real estate tax escalations through the duration of its lease expiring in November 2031 plus unpaid rent at TF Cornerstone’s 387 Park Avenue South between East 27th and East 28th Streets.

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“That such amounts may be excessive is tenant’s own fault, as it chose to prolong this litigation (and thus made it more expensive) by baselessly running to federal court three times,” the judge wrote in her decision. She was referring to two bankruptcies and some federal court maneuvering.

In November 2015, Commercial Observer reported that the eatery signed a lease to relocate to a 10,550-square-foot space (7,550 square feet at grade and 3,000 square feet—usable—in the basement) at the base of the 12-story office building at 387 Park Avenue South. Artisanal was going to open a French bistro and lounge there in summer 2016 after the landlord at its previous location, at 2 Park Avenue, decided not to renew the restaurateur’s lease. Artisanal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August 2016 and then again in March 2017. Both bankruptcies have since been dismissed, Artisanal never opened at 387 Park Avenue South and the retail space is back on the market, as CO previously reported.

Artisanal filed a lawsuit on Jan. 6, 2017, the decision indicates, after receiving a “notice to cure” from the landlord on Dec. 21, 2016, “which alleged myriad breaches of the lease, such as unpaid rent and additional rent.” Artisanal went through five law firms over the course of this case.

Attorneys Lucas Ferrara and Ricardo Vera of Newman Ferrara represented TF Cornerstone in the case and referred this reporter to TF Cornerstone. A TF Cornerstone spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond with a comment. Kevin Nash and J. Ted Donovan of Goldberg Weprin Finkel Goldstein represented Artisanal. Neither of Artisanal’s lawyers immediately responded to a request for comment.