A dispute over unpaid rent and deferred building maintenance could lead to the closure of Two Dads’ Diner on Detroit Avenue in Ward 3, near the Westerly apartment complex.
Building co-owner Tammy Asimakis filed a complaint for eviction on February 12 in Lakewood Municipal Court seeking $12,500 in overdue rent. It is the third time in four years that eviction proceedings have been initiated against the diner.
Magistrate Regis E. McGann issued a March 1 report granting Asimakis’ request for eviction on the basis of the fact that rent had not been paid since May 2011.
McGann directed the diner to vacate the premises on or before Sunday, March 11. The magistrate’s orders will be effective on Thursday, March 15, when the court is set to adopt the report.
Building owner bankrupt, unable to afford repairs
The appearance of the brick building at 14412 Detroit Avenue is deceptive. The front of the property looks generally sound, but problems exist to the rear, including a failing back porch staircase and parking garage.
Asimakis was found guilty last summer of failure to comply with the building code after being cited by the Division of Housing and Building.
At a December building compliance hearing, a tearful Asimakis told the court that a “series of devastating events” had occurred and her husband had lost his business and declared bankruptcy. She said they’d owned the building for 16 years and “had no problems whatsoever” until 2009.
Asimakis said she might be able to make some temporary fixes, but could not afford to address the building’s major issues. She mentioned one tenant – whom she did not identify – owed her $10,000 in delinquent rent. “I don’t know what to do,” she said.
Five days later, the Rocky River resident filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy listing about $872,000 in assets and approximately $2 million in liabilities. The move halted foreclosure proceedings on the Detroit Avenue building.
On February 29, the tenants in one of the apartments above Two Dads’ Diner notified Asimakis they would pay their rent into a court escrow account because she was not appropriately maintaining the building. Her next building compliance hearing date is set for April 13.
Two Dads’ Diner not closed – yet
The future of Two Dads’ Diner does not look bright.
Lakewood Observer Publisher James O’Bryan wrote on his message board last night that the diner had served its last meal on Friday and would not reopen. So, of course, it was somewhat surprising when the diner was open Saturday morning and doing a brisk breakfast business.
Inside the restaurant, there were some signs that the business could be winding down.
One of the cooks was heard pointedly telling the young waitress crew that certain menu items, like The Irishman, were not available due to a lack of ingredients. Patrons ordering orange juice were instead given Sunny Delight.
Most noticeable, though, was the troubled look on diner co-owner John Kamkutis’ face. The one-time Lakewood School Board member’s tall, sturdy frame seemed burdened with a world of concern.
He told a customer who inquired about the truth of the Lakewood Observer report that it was “unclear” what would happen. Kamkutis explained the building owner was in trouble with the city because of maintenance issues. He said there is a meeting scheduled on Monday and more would be known afterward.