Pinky’s Space sues NYC for $615K for tearing down dining shed

Food & Drinks /

An East Village hotspot is suing the city for tearing down its $90,000 artsy outdoor dining shed “without any warning” — driving it into financial ruin, new court papers allege.

Pinky’s Space — through its parent company Cherry Velvet Inc. — says the city Department of Transportation on Oct. 27, without notice, demolished the 30-foot outdoor dining shed built during the pandemic under the city’s Open Restaurant Program, a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Thursday charged.

The suit is seeking $615,000.

Pinky’s — a self-described “food art-space” on East First Street and First Avenue that opened in 2017 — says it invested $90,000 to build an outdoor dining area and garden replete with “a crystal chandelier, hanging disco ball, neon lights and works of art to parallel its indoor space,” the filing claims.

But the restaurant got two cease-and-desist letters during the summer for alleged non-compliance — though “each time made the requested changes,” the suit alleges.

The city never warned Pinky’s about “a threat of imminent harm” – with the restaurant only finding out the shed would be destroyed the day 18 DOT workers showed up to take it down, the court papers claim.

The DOT workers “were unable to provide” Pinky’s with any “justification or authority” for the demolition, the suit claims.

Instead, the DOT staff “cut the wires to the security cameras” and then mocked, danced and laughed for three hours while they destroyed the area, the suit claims.

Pinky’s owners “watched in horror,” and were told if they “stood in the way and did not remove themselves from the premises, they would be arrested for civil disobedience,” the filing alleges.

When the demolition was done, the owners were told they could reapply to the Open Restaurants program “and had the structure been taken down methodically, they could have rebuild the structure using the same material with limited damages once they were approved for the second time,” the court papers say.

The suit claims the city had worked with other restaurants to help bring their outdoor sheds into compliance — and not destroy them. And other abandoned sheds posed more of a safety threat.

“Several members of the community” have complained there is increased danger in the neighborhood since Pinky’s shed came down, the filing says.

Pinky’s “invested every penny it had” into the business and relied on the Open Restaurants Program to stay alive. During the pandemic 90% of its business came from the outdoor space — which it rented out for events, art shows and performances, the filing argues.

Pinky’s had events booked through the 2022 holiday season which “it was unable to carry out due to the DOT’s unlawful actions” — and was forced to close, with its landlords threatening to evict it from the space.

Demolition of Pinky's outdoor dining shed.
Pinky’s claims that without warning on Oct. 27 that 18 Department of Transportation workers arrived at the space.

The demolition of Pinky's dining shed.
During three hours, the DOT workers allegedly mocked, laughed and danced while they tore the structure down.


The demolition of Pinky's outdoor dining shed.
Pinky’s owners were threatened that they would be arrested if they interfered, they said.

The demolition of Pinky's dining shed.
The workers allegedly offered no explanation for why they were tearing down the structure.


Because the DOT has “caused interruption” to business, “substantial loss of profits,” and damaged Pinky’s reputation, the restaurant is seeking a minimum of $525,000 in damages plus interest, totaling $615,000.

Pinky’s co-owner Mimi Blitz told The Post when the shed was taken down that “we were still struggling from the pandemic but making it work.”

“And then someone comes and takes it away for no reason,” she lamented.

“We want our space back,” she insisted. “It was built with love and care.”

The DOT refuted the suit’s allegations, saying in addition to the cease-and-desist letters it sent to Pinky’s in the summer, it sent two more in October notifying the restaurant the shed would be torn down if it didn’t bring the outdoor space into compliance.

The shed’s violations included that it was too far from the curb, lacked reflective materials, wasn’t wheelchair accessible, covered a manhole and had a non-dining component, the DOT said.

A city Law Department spokesperson told The Post they will review the suit.

“Outdoor dining saved more than 100,000 jobs at the height of the pandemic, and we are working with our partners in the City Council to design a permanent Open Restaurants program that has clear guidelines for restaurant owners and that all New Yorkers can be proud of,” the spokesperson said.

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