Restaurant News & Reviews

Iconic S&S Diner can stay — for now

Simon Elbaz, who has owned the S&S Diner since 1999, is arguing that his lease allows his restaurant to stay through 2019. His landlord is trying to evict the diner.
Simon Elbaz, who has owned the S&S Diner since 1999, is arguing that his lease allows his restaurant to stay through 2019. His landlord is trying to evict the diner. Miami Herald File

The S&S Diner will remain open — for now.

The iconic diner, operating since 1938 and designated a national and Miami historic landmark, can stay in business while the court decides whether its lease allows it to remain through 2019, a judge decided Thursday.

“I don’t know for how long, but we’re staying,” longtime manager Maria Linares said.

The restaurant was facing eviction Thursday after it was a day late with its July rent, while it disputed its landlord’s claim that S&S Diner’s current lease is not valid.

In dispute is a lease extension the S&S Diner signed in January 2015 that would allow it to remain open through 2019. The restaurant’s owner of 17 years, Simon Elbaz, said he signed a lease in 2010 with a previous owner that included the extension option.

RELATED: Historic S&S Diner faces eviction

But current landlord 17th and Second Avenue Properties Corp., which purchased the S&S building in 2012, said it never agreed to the extension, according to court documents. In April, the company filed suit against S&S, saying the diner’s lease had expired at the end of 2014 and that Elbaz had refused to move out when told his month-to-month lease would not be renewed in March.

17th and Second agreed to sell the S&S and other neighboring properties for $33 million in February, according to the Real Deal. That sale is set to close next July but was contingent on the building being sold without a tenant, Elbaz said.

Elbaz, 68, is fighting those claims in court. And for now, the case is pending.

Elbaz said Wednesday that at worst he would like time to find a new location for the S&S Diner. It would be without its iconic facade, which has the city’s legal protection as a historic landmark.

“What I want is to keep my restaurant running and for the people of Miami to enjoy it,” Elbaz said. “We are a little restaurant, but we deserve a little more respect.”

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