America’s oldest steakhouse, Delmonico’s, to reopen after 3 year closure but future in doubt over dispute

Nearly three years after New York City’s COVID policies forced businesses to close, the future of America’s oldest steakhouse remains in question as former partners feud over who actually has the rights to reopen.

Delmonico’s Steakhouse first opened its doors in 1837 in the area that grew to become Manhattan’s Financial District. After 186 years, the iconic space at 56 Beaver Street, featured prominently in Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick” film series as the interior of the fictional Continental Hotel, has announced plans to reopen by fall of 2023.

However, brothers Ferdo and Omer Grgurev, who, according to Eater, had won a 2021 lawsuit securing full ownership of the space, have claimed the new leaseholders haven’t the rights to the Delmonico’s name. Operating the Instagram account for Delmonico’s with one solitary post, the Grgurevs contended Thursday, “We regret to inform our customers and loyal followers that the recent reports that we will re-open at 56 Beaver Street is false. It has come to our attention that former associates have been misrepresenting themselves to the media as owners of Delmonico’s.”

 

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“This is untrue, and legal action has been commenced against these individuals,” the statement continued. “As the sole owners of the trademark and this iconic brand, we are disappointed that anyone would attempt to steal our name, but more so that our customers have been given false expectations about re-opening.”

“We are actively working on our New York City reopening plans and will share those with you as soon as we are able,” the Grgurevs concluded.

While it is true that the Grgurevs have 22 pending trademark applications pertaining to the use of the name Delmonico’s, Eater pointed out that Time Equities, the owner of the building, had signed a new lease with Dennis Turcinovic and Joseph Licul who announced the reopening plans.

An email from Turcinovic’s spokesperson to Eater explained, “Effective January 1, 2023, Joseph Licul and Dennis Turcinovic became the new owners of the property when they signed a new 15-year lease with Time Equities. Statements suggesting that they are not the owners are not true. They are also not involved with, or named, in any ongoing lawsuit with the previous owners.”

Prior to signing the lease, Turcinovic, son of ex-partner Branko Turcinovic who was named in the Grgurevs’ lawsuit, had been an employee of Delmonico’s for more than 20 years. Licul is also related to a named former partner of the restaurant who had their ownership divested from the lawsuit.

According to the Grgurevs, who insist Time Equities intentionally allowed their lease to expire, their 2021 ruling provided them the rights to operate a restaurant called Delmonico’s in New York and prohibited those named in the suit from doing the same, or operating any other restaurant, within one mile of 56 Beaver Street until March 2023.

Turcinovic’s spokesperson also provided a document to Eater from their legal team that stated that Grgurev’s “claim, like their evidence, is overblown and a smoke screen.”

“Trademark rights are obtained through use. The name Delmonico’s is not only etched in the building itself, but has been recognized as a City landmark as the site of the Delmonico’s restaurant,” the statement continued. “The original owners of the Delmonico’s restaurant licensed the name to Beaver for use in connection with a restaurant at 56 Beaver Street.”

As to the Grgurevs’ dispute with Time Equities, it was reported that the lessor had attempted to evict the brothers in April 2022 after they had allegedly failed to pay nearly $300,000 in rent and fees. They countered and claimed their landlord had failed to fix the water damage that resulted from Hurricane Ida in 2021.

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