SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — Simply Seafood may have fried its last fish.
The lone holdout restaurant in the shuttered Pier 17 mall, which is slated for demolition, has been ordered by a judge to leave its longtime spot in the mall's mostly darkened food court.
Father and son owners John and Joseph Demane had refused to shut down their popular fish fry in the mall that officially closed in September, leaving them as the last store standing while they battled in court with landlord Howard Hughes Corporation over a yearslong lease dispute.
But a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday that Simply Seafood doesn't have the right to stay in the mall.
Based on Simply Seafood's non-payment of rent and utilities since filing suit against the mall's previous owner in 2005 — which amounted to more than $200,000 in overdue payments — the judge ruled that the restaurant's lease was not good through 2020, as Simply Seafood had been fighting to prove.
The judge also said the Demanes had misreported to their landlord how much income they had made from the shop over the years.
The Demanes' lawyer, John O'Kelly said the decision was "very disappointing" and they plan to appeal.
But Howard Hughes hailed the decision, saying the process of tearing down the 28-year-old mall and replacing it with a sleek, upscale development can now finally move ahead.
“Simply Seafood’s lease was originally terminated in 2005 due to non-payment of rent and other monies owed according to the lease terms. Since that time, it had been an illegal, hold-over tenant," the company said in a statement. "While The Howard Hughes Corporation inherited this situation from the previous landlords, we are pleased that it has been resolved after a long and arduous process."