Waterfront Restaurant Fights For Its Life in Court

By Constantine Mittendorf

Sinbads 2

Sinbad’s sits on a pier next to San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building.  With a dining room view from the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island, Sinbad’s has been a classic San Francisco establishment for locals and tourists alike for 40 years.  Through booms and busts, Sinbad’s has held a lease with the San Francisco Port Authority.  Now it looks like San Francisco’s booming economy might be the restaurant’s downfall.

In part due to increased demand, the San Francisco Port Authority has decided to expand ferry service to San Francisco around the Ferry Building.  According to the City, Sinbad’s restaurant is the best location for a new ferry landing.  This means the restaurant has to go.  The Port Authority sent Sinbad’s a notice terminating its lease earlier this year and Sinbad’s has refused to go quietly.

In fact, Sinbad’s filed a lawsuit against the City in March, alleging that the City has been acting in bad faith and asking the court to enjoin the City from closing the restaurant down.  The City filed an eviction lawsuit in April alleging that Sinbad’s lease has expired and demanding unpaid rent, followed by a cross complaint against Sinbad’s for breach of contract.  The City’s eviction case is scheduled for a jury trial next week, followed by Sinbad’s case against the City.

The Joint Statement of the Case in the pending eviction matter reads as follows:

This is an unlawful detainer [eviction] lawsuit involving the Port of San Francisco as landlord/lessor and Sinbad’s Pier 2, Inc. as tenant/lessee.  The Port contends that it lawfully and properly terminated the parties’ lease by causing a 30-day notice to be delivered to Sinbad’s.  Sinbad’s claims that the termination notice was issued to retaliate against it for exercising its constitutional right to petition a governmental agency.”

According to San Francisco County Superior Court records, Sinbad’s is no stranger to the Court process.  It has been in and out of the San Francisco court system since the 1980’s both as a plaintiff and a defendant – mainly for small claims actions with suppliers, utilities, the tax collector, personal injury actions, and even as a plaintiff against Yelp, the online review giant.  Now it’s in a court battle for its very existence.

As of today, the jury has been empanelled and the opening statements are calendared for this Monday, July 27th.  We will keep you updated about this restaurant real estate battle.

© 2009- Duane Morris LLP. Duane Morris is a registered service mark of Duane Morris LLP.

The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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