nino's

Photo: Jason Lam for flickr.com

A popular East Village slice joint plans to reopen despite what it says is an unreasonable demand for dough.

After a gas leak forced Nino’s Pizza and its neighbor, Yoshi Sushi, to close their doors on the corner of Avenue A and St. Marks Place, both businesses were served eviction notices last week. But the owner of Nino’s tell us he’s aiming to reopen in a week to ten days.

According to EV Grieve, the gas leak, discovered by Con Ed, forced the businesses to vacate the premises on October 21. The eviction notices served to both businesses this month cited outstanding rent of $22,549.93 for Nino’s and $42,593 for Yoshi Sushi.

Nino Camaj, the owner of Nino’s, told us that the gas leak was discovered in the building’s basement, and the gas was shut off without the tenants receiving any notice. “Nobody tells us anything,” he said. Camaj said that nobody told them how long the building would be closed, or how long it would take to fix the leak. “Now they want us to pay rent for the month we have been closed, and I’m not paying that, that’s their problem.” Camaj’s lawyers are currently in conversation with the lawyers of the landlord, Citi Urban Management, to dispute the rent charged for the month during which Nino’s was forced to remain closed.

Photo courtesy of EV Grieve

Photo courtesy of EV Grieve

When asked whether the rent demanded by Citi Urban included rent for previous months, Nino said it did not. But according to a representative at Citi Urban, the outstanding rent owed by both businesses includes rent for November as well as outstanding rent for previous months. Only the rent for November is being disputed, he said. “They should have insurance to cover that loss of business.” The notice posted on the door of Yoshi Sushi lists outstanding rent and taxes for September, October and November. Yoshi Sushi could not be reached.

Should Nino’s reopen, it wouldn’t be the first time during its two decades that it bounced back from an unexpected closure. It was shuttered by the health department in December of 2012 and remained closed for months, and was briefly closed by the DOH again last summer.

Rent dispute or not, it’s heartening to see precautions being taken to prevent disasters like the explosion and fire on 2nd Avenue earlier this year. Citi Urban and Nino’s agree on one thing: the pipes are in the process of being fixed.