Denny's Moves Ahead With Downtown Opening After Settling $10M Suit
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Cheap-eats chain Denny’s is moving ahead with its controversial plan to open its first New York City location in a Downtown luxury condo building, after settling a lawsuit with residents who opposed the eatery.
“America’s Diner,” which leased a ground-floor space at 150 Nassau St. — a swanky landmarked building that sits across the street from City Hall — has settled a $10 million lawsuit filed in June by angry building tenants trying to block the restaurant from opening, according to court records. The residents had feared that their home, which sits next to a Pace University building, would be transformed into a hangout for college students attracted by Denny's inexpensive drinks and food.
The terms of the December settlement were not immediately disclosed, but the case was "discontinued with prejudice," according to court documents, which means the plaintiffs cannot file a suit again on the same legal grounds.
Now that the lawsuit is out of the way, Denny's is pushing forward with the Nassau Street restaurant and recently applied for a liquor license for the space, according to documents sent to Community Board 1.
The restaurant had withdrawn an earlier application for a beer and wine license from CB1 in May, amid a firestorm of complaints from local residents. But after the settlement, Denny’s is now seeking a full liquor license instead, which will allow the eatery to sell hard alcohol.
"We've been engaged in discussions with the condo board at 150 Nassau St. and continue to maintain an open dialogue regarding development," a spokesman for Denny's said in an emailed statement. "The board is aware that we are pursuing a liquor license at this time."
Representatives for 150 Nassau St. did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Babaev Group, the real estate firm that owns the 150 Nassau St. commercial space, said they could not speak about the settlement, but confirmed that Denny's was moving forward with its plan to open, although the timeline was not immediately clear.
As of Tuesday, the space was still largely empty, with no signs of construction on the restaurant.
The retail space, which was once home to a Taco Bell, has been empty since the 24-story building was converted to multi-million-dollar condos in 2003. Denny's signed a lease in the 1896 building early last year.
The lease immediately sparked complaints from residents, who worried the 24-hour restaurant would bring hordes of rowdy customers to their block.
“In stark contrast to the dignity and storied character of this quiet, residential, family-oriented building, Denny’s is a fast food chain synonymous with a late night party atmosphere, as well as drunk, disorderly, violent and criminal conduct,” said the residents' lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The 60-year-old Denny’s chain has 1,680 locations across the country, but this will be its first in New York City.