The war of the leases is uglier than previously expected. Ziggy Gruber, owner/chef of Kenny & Ziggy's Deli anticipated to open his New York style upscale cafeteria, Dubrow's New York Grill in the space currently occupied by Sorrel Urban Bistro, but that ship has long sailed.
Last week, CultureMap broke the news that the deli king and Sorrel Urban Bistro landlord John Dunn couldn't agree on terms for the lease, despite a previous deal Gruber had in place with Ray Salti, owner of the restaurant located on the 2200 West Alabama property that will close at the end of the month. Gruber insisted his deal with Salti was valid and would press forward with opening plans, but what was first thought to be a cut and dry deal, is becoming more complicated.
Gruber declined to comment on the ongoing dispute, directing further inquires to his attorney, but Salti had much to say. He appeared on radio and television restaurant personality Cleverley Stone's weekly radio program over the weekend, spilling the beans regarding the future of the Sorrel Urban Bistro space.
The restauranteur told Stone there's no hope for the Kosher restaurant to take over his farm-to-table concept, alleging there's a letter in existence from the shopping center's landlord to Gruber which states there's no deal for Dubrow's New York Grill to move in. Asked about the revelations that his current restaurant will transform into Bollo Wood Fired Pizza versus finding a new tenant, Salti replied:
"If somebody came three months ago, four months ago, yes, because I already announced I'm closing. But now it's a different story, I'm not going to say yes because I have to do a lot of work, construction, ovens and different things. So that's why the timing is really bad right now, I have to move on with a new concept".
Salti revealed his new pizza concept (his other pizza restaurant includes Pepperoni's, which opened its first location within Houston this summer) is expected to open by mid or late March of 2015. Bollo Wood Fire Pizzas will cook their pies in Italian ovens hand made in Napoli. As previously noted by CultureMap, the pizzeria will offer Neapolitan-style pizza similar to Dolce Vita and Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana.
After the interview, Stone tweeted the logo for Salti's upcoming restaurant:
What was considered to be a done deal and smooth transition into the new year, seems to be a mess. While Dubrow's New York Grill isn't completely dead, hopes to open in the prime River Oaks location are. Maybe Gruber will look to open Dubrow's in the Meyerland or Bellaire. Being home to many of Houston's Jewish residents, it would be a welcomed addition like Genesis Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, the Kosher steakhouse that opened last week.
Unlike the line from the Scottish tune, Auld Lang Syne, "Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?" Gruber will remember this setback with New Year's a week away. It's very likely we'll hear more of the leasing dispute into the new year. Lawyers are involved and it's probable this will land in court.