Landlord Sues Dean & DeLuca for $29M Over Missed Rent at Meatpacking Cafe

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Luxury food chain Dean & DeLuca’s financial problems have deepened after the landlord of its short-lived, and expensive, Meatpacking District cafe said it wants nearly $29 million to cover missed rent and breaking the lease.

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Midtown Equities filed a lawsuit on Tuesday claiming Dean & DeLuca and parent company Pace Development owe millions of dollars for two months of unpaid rent, late fees and other costs at its cafeteria-style restaurant, Stage, at 29 Ninth Avenue near West 13th Street, which closed in July after just three months in business, court records show.

Pace allegedly failed to pay its $225,015 rent in June and its $301,974 rent in July for the storefront and was hit with a total of $35,931 in late fees for both months, according to the suit.

Midtown Equities is also seeking $10 million against Pace CEO Sorapoj Techakraisri as the guarantor, $9 million for terminating the lease, $70,000 for plumbing it completed for Stage to open, $753,000 for mechanics’ liens, $575,000 to “white box” the storefront and $300,000 for legal fees.

The suit comes after reports that the once-thriving chain has been slowly dying across the county. Dean & DeLuca has had sparsely stocked shelves — filled with Coca-Cola cans instead of its usual gourmet items — and growing debts over failing to pay employees and small food suppliers, the New York Times reported. 

Dean & DeLuca’s Thai-based parent company Pace has been seeking a $60 million cash infusion to save the grocery store, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

Midtown Equities’ lawyer, Jerry Montag, and a representative from Pace Development did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dean & DeLuca was founded in Manhattan in 1977 and bought by Pace Development for $140 million in 2014 after Techakraisri “fell in love with the brand,” FT reported. The chain had 11 locations across the U.S. and Techakraisri hoped to grow its presence in Asia.

Techakraisri also wanted to expand a new restaurant format to move away from its deli-style takeout image and was eyeing the duplex-space at 29 Ninth Avenue since 2016 for a prototype, according to the Times and the New York Post

After sinking millions of dollars into it, hiring pricey German architect Ole Scheeren, the prototype Stage finally opened its doors in April, Eater New York reported.

However, Pace faced financial troubles in recent years — missing vendor payments at Dean & DeLuca — and started closing off Dean & DeLuca locations around the country, the Times reported. Dean & DeLuca is down to just four stores in the U.S. and closed the Stage cafe in July.