It was just last week we were waxing poetic about New Clements Restaurant, but now our favorite hangover joint is closing its doors for good. Owner Tony Hustulakis told us that the landlord has refused to renew the lease.
Anyone passing by the greasy spoon yesterday saw the storefront at 1612 Sheepshead Bay Road being gutted, and Hustulakis said everything would be gone by Friday when their lease is up. Hustulakis – who has owned the diner for past 13 years of its several decade-long existence – approached the landlord about three of four months ago to ask for a lease renewal, but was met with a stern “No.”
“After 13 years this store is like my home. I spend 15 hours a day here. I feel angry. I feel upset. But I have no choice, I have to leave,” Hustulakis said.
The 59-year-old owner said he may retire or start a new venture in a few years, closer to his home in New Jersey. But he added he will always have fond memories of the bay.
“I like this place. It’s nice and quiet. The customers are nice,” he said.
For the past four years, Hustulakis has been paying $3,200 per month for rent, much lower than market value. When he tried to sell the business recently, he approached the landlord to broker a deal with the potential buyer. The landlord wanted to up the rent to $5,500 per month. The deal eventually fell through for other reasons.
Hustulakis thinks the landlord may have signed a deal with another area business. He said he’s “99.9 percent” sure the new tenant is Forces of Nature Health Food, which has a location next door in one direction and three doors down the other way. He believes the health store owners would tear down the wall and consolidate the two locations. He also said that the owner recently came in with the landlord, who gave him a tour.
An owner at Forces of Nature denied signing a lease, though.
“We are not involved,” he said.
So, if the health food store isn’t taking over the location, what do you think it’ll be? Sushi? Hair and nail salon? Cell phone store? Your guess is as good as ours, but one thing is for sure – the best breakfast joint in the bay is gone. And that sucks.
Some photos of the interior being gutted: