News

Controversial night spot staying put

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

Cratsenberg Properties has dropped its eviction suit against Cafe Arizona, leaving the popular night club free and clear to continue operating.

In a statement issued last Friday, attorney Andrew Cratsenberg Jr. said the landlord filed a motion for voluntary dismissal after “a new employee for Cratsenberg Properties accepted and deposited Cafe Arizona’s March rent check,” which he said compromised the integrity of the lawsuit.

Cratsenberg Properties officials didn’t return calls to the Mirror Monday.

Kenneth Kagan, the attorney representing Cafe Arizona, said the landlord’s case –– including allegations that the night club has been the source of shootings and other violence –– was flawed from the beginning.

He questioned whether the notice of default informing Cafe Arizona’s owners they were being evicted, filed Feb. 21, was done correctly. He said landlords are required to give tenants an opportunity to fix an alleged problem before they’re evicted.

In Cratsenberg’s notice, he said, the night club had 10 days to leave and no opportunity to address the concerns.

Kagan also pointed out the deposit of Cafe Arizona’s rent check. “If you accept payment, you waive the right to pursue the claim,” he said. “All of a sudden, they realized how badly they’d blown it.”

He said Cratsenberg Properties might have to reimburse Cafe Arizona’s owners for the attorneys’ fees they incurred defending their night club, but he couldn’t say how much those fees would be.

“It’s a lot. I had to drop everything I was doing, as did a couple of others,” he said. “It took a tremendous amount of time. We had to scramble.”

This was Cratsenberg’s second attempt to evict Cafe Arizona from Center Plaza, where the club has operated for almost 10 years. In 1995, the landlord filed an eviction notice, but later sought a voluntary dismissal in that case, too, Kagan said.

Cafe Arizona has come under fire from city government officials, police and the city attorney, in addition to the land owner, over the years for shootings and public disturbances allegedly connected to altercations at the night spot.

In the eviction lawsuit, Cratsenberg referenced three shootings in three months, as well as “gunfights, rapes, large riots, physical fights, drunk and disorderly conduct, and other violent disturbances at or near Cafe Arizona.”

Manager Sharon Seo, the daughter of the owners, denied the allegation.

Kagan said he’s not sure why “everybody’s trying to get rid of Cafe Arizona.”

“Our client thinks it might be because (the club is) Korean-owned and they have a primarily African-American clientele,” he said. Cratsenberg Properties has denied that claim previously, saying in the lawsuit that many of the other business owners at Center Plaza are Korean, Hispanic, Samoan, Iranian, Filipino and African-American.

Kagan didn’t know if Cratsenberg Properties was preparing to file a new lawsuit to evict the night club, but considering Cafe Arizona has another seven months left on its lease, he said the two sides are going to have to settle their differences.

“Even though we were victorious (in the latest case), I think we have to initiate discussion with the Cratsenbergs to work this out,” he said.

Staff writer Erica Jahn: 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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