New York condo board sues to keep Denny's out

It faces a $10 million lawsuit as residents above its first proposed location in the city call its patrons 'drunk, disorderly, violent and criminal.'

By Jason Notte Jun 10, 2013 3:09PM
File photo of a Denny's sign (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Manhattan condo dwellers may not think much of the bridge-and-tunnel crowd that calls their neighborhoods' bars and restaurants home during the late evening hours, but at least the kids from New Jersey and Long Island have their own diners to go home to.

Now, though, a proposed Denny's (DENN) in Lower Manhattan -- which would be the first in NYC -- would bring that far-suburban diner into "The City" with them. For folks living in a Financial District building where Street Easy says an apartment just sold for $1.45 million, that just won't do.

The building's condo board just filed a $10 million lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court seeking to stop the restaurant from moving into the building's retail space, according to New York City real estate site The Real Deal.

That suit's lofty price tag is indicative of condo board's low esteem for Denny's, which it considers "a fast food chain synonymous with a late night party atmosphere, as well as drunk, disorderly, violent and criminal conduct." Where are the residents of the 125-unit building getting that idea? YouTube has plenty of examples -- none very pleasant to watch -- featuring  brawls at Denny's outlets across the country.

The owners of the New York building's ground-floor commercial space have shrugged off Denny's notorious last-call clashes and expect the chain to prevail, but so far they've taken a beating on par with any dished out over Grand Slam breakfasts in those videos. As the condo board's complaint notes, the city's Department of Buildings already rejected construction plans for the Denny's location because they would affect the structural stability of the building, which was originally completed in 1896. The plans also contained incomplete zoning analysis, a big no-no in Manhattan.

The hypothetical Denny's location also retreated from its initial plans to sell beer and wine after receiving more than 50 complaint letters, according to Grub Street. Residents of the surrounding area represented by Community Board 1 are still skeptical and say Denny's will just resubmit its wine-and-beer application later.

The commercial space's owners and Denny's itself may feel just a bit slighted considering that the location they're trying to fill had a Yum Brands (YUM) Taco Bell as its last resident. However, that was roughly a decade ago when offices filled the floors upstairs. According to DNAinfo, the building was converted to residential condominiums in 2003, and residents have since turned a wary eye toward students at nearby commuter school Pace University.

Denny's may one day get its chance to play in the world of disco fries and egg creams, but it's quickly learning that its punchy, lowbrow reputation elsewhere isn't exactly an endearing quality when you're trying to impress a Big Apple condo board.

More on moneyNOW

Jun 10, 2013 3:37PM
New York snobs. I hope Denny's prevails and their customers vomit nightly on the stoop. 
Jun 10, 2013 4:22PM
Jun 10, 2013 4:24PM
Sure, don't put an inexpensive restaurant there.  Continue to rape us business travelers on a per diem. Hoteliers, this is why we cut our stays short.  We can't afford your city.
Jun 10, 2013 4:30PM

Ah, rich snotty azzoles.  Might just have to learn to share your space with...horrors!...regular people!

Jun 10, 2013 4:33PM
This is all about existing restaurant not wanting lower-priced competition, and also all about "elite" New Yorkers not wanting middle-class Americans to have a good, economical place to eat.  Denny´s offers, in middle America, suburban-type locations, middle-America-type food...NOT fast food like McDonald´s...just stuff like bacon and eggs for breakfast and turkey and peas and mashed potatoes for lunch and dinner.  The clientele is predominantly average folks from middle America, at least at suburban locations.  The information contained in this lawyer-enriching lawsuit is largely false progadanda.
Jun 10, 2013 4:17PM
Dennys is great  dont know why they get such a bad rap.  and think of the jobs it would provide ( and those snobs would be the first customer  when it opens)
Jun 10, 2013 4:39PM
No problem boycotting NYC along with the other anti-American snobs! 
Jun 10, 2013 4:28PM

I guess that they will really be up in arms when they hear that a Salvation Army soup kitchen is going in across the street.

And if Denny's doesn't get approval, I hear that Ham n' Egger and Golden Corral are planning a cooperative smorgasbord at that location. $5 all you can eat with the chocolate fountain. They also plan on selling wine in a can.

Jun 10, 2013 4:49PM
Dennys is a great place to dine..Dennys should locate to Queens, they have a better class of people...Go Dennys...
Jun 10, 2013 4:44PM
**** em, counter sue 10 mil.....lets see how they truly want to play..... gotta wonder if their homeowner assoc. has that kind of jack to give away.
Jun 10, 2013 5:00PM
Manhattanites are the worst pieces of **** on the East Coast. They think they're all high and mighty. Dennys doesn't need those pieces of trash. Come to the Outer Boros, Dennys, where you will be appreciated for your value pricing on decent food. Theres no reason to go where you aren't wanted when you could make more money in the more heavily populated Queens and Brooklyn.
Jun 10, 2013 4:40PM
That's Company profiling, we can't have that now.......
Jun 10, 2013 4:56PM
Why don't you NY snobs stay out the rest of the state...oh wait, stay out of the rest of the country, we don't need your kind either. Go Denny's!
Jun 10, 2013 4:48PM

Denny's is good stuff. Hope they win.

Jun 10, 2013 4:58PM
I don't frequent Denny,s but they have a right to set up for business if they can pay the rent and get the health dept to approve.
Jun 10, 2013 3:39PM
I think the condo board is over reacting a little about the type of people that frequent Dennys - fights break out in even the nicest of restaurants.  That said, Dennys is still kind of low-end food that probably doesn't belong in a building where the apartments are selling for over a million dollars.
Jun 10, 2013 4:57PM
Whatever is coming of our wealthy elitists style of life here in the big apple, omg a Denny's how revolting. Snobby, New York better than everyone else jerks. Kiss off you bunch of social elitist snobs go vote democratic so the little people can have cake.
Jun 10, 2013 4:41PM
I suggest that the IRS should audit Denny's,,,,,  and each and every tenant of the buildings complaining about Denny's.  If the tenants do not like Denny's as another tenant they have the problem; not Denny's. They have the right to sell out and move.
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