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Historic S&S Diner Granted Temporary Reprieve, Will Remain Open for Now UPDATED

Update: S&S Diner received a temporary reprieve this morning after Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Yvonne Cuesta vacated the eviction order. Yet how long the restaurant will remain open is unclear. William Steven Adams, an attorney representing the property's owner, couldn't say much about what happens next. "My client makes the decisions," he said outside the Coral Gables courthouse.

Adams later told the diner's attorney to submit a proposal, possibly giving owner Simon Elbaz some time to find the eatery a new home. "We want to continue the tradition of S&S," Elbaz said while choking back tears. "I want it to make it to 100 years."

Edgewater’s iconic S&S Diner gets a shot at survival Thursday morning when its lawyers ask a Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge to reverse an eviction order issued after the restaurant’s owner, Simon Elbaz, failed to pay July’s rent on time.

“They treat us like we’re nothing,” Elbaz said. “We have a historic designation — we should get a little more respect.”

The institution remained stubbornly open Thursday morning. "We are open unless we hear otherwise," a manager said before returning to the breakfast crowd around 9 a.m. 

The nine-decade-old diner’s fight began in 2010 when Elbaz signed a five-year lease with the property’s then management company. In 2012, that lease was transferred to the current owner, 17th and Second Avenue Properties Corp., which is managed by Uruguayan businessman Enrique Manhard, according to Florida Department of State records.

When the lease expired at the end of 2014, the diner “subsequently remained on the property as a holdover tenant,” according to a complaint filed April 1. But Elbaz said his lease included a five-year extension option that he sought to exercise.
“Three months before the end of the five years, I exert my right of the option by my attorney to their attorney,” the 68-year-old said. “Three times I asked for the renewal of my lease, and there was no answer.”

But the contract notes the option is at the landlord’s discretion, so Elbaz likely had little recourse. 

The case has since been tied up in court. Earlier this month, while visiting family in Canada, Elbaz failed to pay rent to the court the first day of the month, as a judge had previously ordered. Once back in Miami, he paid on July 7, according to court records. The following day, 17th and Second Avenue Properties Corp. began eviction proceedings.

Neither Manhard nor 17th and Second Avenue Properties Corp.’s attorney responded to New Times' requests and emails seeking comment.
The area where the diner sits seems to be destined for gentrification. Israel-based developer ASRR Capital Ltd. earlier this year signed a $33 million deal for a tract spanning from 17th Terrace to 18th Street, as well as NE Second Avenue and NE Second Court. Though outside of that expanse, the land S&S sits on was included in the deal. ASRR has brought in a slate of Beijing- and Hong Kong-based investors and developers, according to the Real Deal. Little is known about the consortium’s plans for the area that sits near Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District, the fast-growing Edgewater neighborhood, and Wynwood.

Any plans will face complications because the structure, built in 1938, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. The City of Miami, in an extraordinary move, layered on another historic designation because the site's “classic Art Deco design illustrates the architectural trends and prevalent materials of the Depression era,” according to its listing on the city’s historic preservation website. Any significant changes to the building would require city approval.

S&S Diner South near Coral Gables will close its doors permanently after this weekend. Though the two share the same name, they have different ownership and management. 

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