Simply Seafood is still open on Pier 17

On Nov. 9, around 35 people went to Simply Seafood for dinner to show their support. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

On Nov. 9, around 35 people went to Simply Seafood for dinner to show their support. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | More than five weeks after The Howard Hughes Corporation was supposed to begin demolishing the existing shopping mall on Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport, one tenant, Simply Seafood, is still open.

The rest of the mall is unoccupied and dark. Hughes has turned off the heat. Nevertheless, the escalators to the food court on the third floor are still running and Simply Seafood is still serving modestly priced clams, mussels, shrimp and other seafood from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

Along with several other Pier 17 tenants, John Demane, 69, owner of Simply Seafood, has sued Howard Hughes in New York Supreme Court for breaking their leases.

Judge Shlomo Hagler had been expected to rule on the case by the end of October. Demane said he believed the judge would issue a verdict on at least part of the case on Nov. 13, but no ruling has yet been made.

Demane said that the last eight years of struggle with his current landlord and with Hughes’ predecessors, General Growth Properties and the Rouse Company, have taken a terrible toll.

“I haven’t been home in two months,” he said. He has to keep his restaurant open according to the hours and days stipulated in his lease or risk losing his case against Hughes just on the grounds of lease violation.

He has been selling food on Pier 17 since 1983 and says he has a lease that runs through 2020. Hughes says that Demane’s lease has expired and he needs to leave.

Hughes has refused to negotiate with the tenants, according to their lawyer, John O’Kelly. Demane said that it’s costing the Dallas-based developer $6,000 to $7,000 a day to keep the pier open.

Hughes held a groundbreaking for Pier 17 on Oct. 17, with white drapes concealing the interior of the shopping mall from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other guests. When the drapes came down after the groundbreaking, it was clear that the mall had been emptied of tenants other than Simply Seafood, but otherwise was intact.

On Nov. 9, Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market on South Street, organized a dinner gathering in support of Simply Seafood. Around 35 people attended.

One diner, who said she hadn’t been to Simply Seafood previously, complimented the food. “Good food! Great prices!” she said. “I’ll come back as long as you’re here. I wish you could stay here.”

Demane thanked her and smiled wanly as he trudged out after the last departing customer.

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3 Responses to Simply Seafood is still open on Pier 17

  1. It has become very evident/clear metaphysically recently (this is a perfect example) how the human being is a spiritual entity traveling in a physical vehicle… Both John Demane and his son Joey display another very good example of how this is "real". Two, standing strong, up against "the corporations" flaunting their, in my opinion, soul-less and vacant vechicles/shells showing how negative energies seem to inflate themselves with toxic air, rather than evaluate much deeper their reasons as not only previledged organizations, gifted with the so called, "upper hand" of power to enable themselves to suppress those (The Demanes) who wish to hold on to that which they consider their "creation/livelihood" without fair consideration, but rather display their EGOS of superiority on those they consider "fragile" is not only dispicable, but , again, in my opinion, will reap that which has been said for decades….. "What goes around, comes around" AND….. "What you do here, you pay here!" Get ready HHC. Stepping on the "little guy" is not a good idea according to "The Universal Mind!:)"

  2. Another example of a vast space that should be enjoyed by the community going to complete waste because our painfully slow judicial system allows these situations to remain in legal limbo for months on end. Every day delayed is another day that community residents don't have a peer to enjoy, take their children too, look at the waterfront, etc., and it's millions and millions of dollars lost for taxpayers and the public. Let's get this sorted out and allow this space to be developed and utilized to its full potential.

  3. Simply Seafood has guts. They have a case, it is in Court, and they have a right to keep serving food. Good for them to stand up against a huge corporation that is dishonest, corrupt, greedy, and treats the South St. Seaport Museum and the surrounding community with contempt. The Howard Hughes Corporation from Dallas has refused to disclose their plans and blueprints. They have "exercised their option" according to Crain's website , to use the landmarked Tin Building and the potential landmark, The "New Market Building", which is the former Fulton Fish Market Building.
    Mayor Bloomberg and his EDC think they can give public land away to a big developer, for a very low price, just as the City is trying to do with public NYCHA housing land, and with the New York Public Library. The trustees of the library have a plan to close the Mid-Manhattan Library and turn it over to developers to build luxury housing. This is unconscionable and has to stop.

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