Building owners fire back at Gold Dust purveyors 

The lawsuits are flying faster than bottles in a bar fight at the Gold Dust Lounge in Union Square, where embattled bar owners were recently slapped with litigation over their refusal to shut down the delightfully schmaltzy dive bar.

The Handlery family, which owns the building and wants an Express clothing store there instead, has been trying since December to part ways with bar run by a pair of aging brothers who continue to serve drinks beyond the terms of their lease. Gold Dust supporters say the bar is too historic to abandon, but the building owners dispute that.

Click the picture for a gallery of the Gold Dust.

In response to the bar operators suing the family in February over claims that they were deceived during lease negotiations to the point of “elder abuse,” the Handlerys are counter-suing the brothers and seeking $25,000 for breach of contract.

Attorneys for the Handlerys say they have “no choice” but to seek the money after the claims of trickery, which spokesman Sam Singer calls absurd.

“The Gold Dust Lounge was operating without a lease in March 2011 when the landlord offered to extend, and the tenant accepted, a new lease that allowed the bar to stay longer and had an early termination right,” Singer said. “There was no deception.”

The Handlerys filed an additional legal action seeking to oust the bar last month, but the Gold Dust owners had made it clear they weren’t leaving by holding a “No Last Call” party.

Lee Housekeeper, a spokesman for the bar owners, said they aren’t fazed by the latest court action.

“We stand by our lawsuit,” Housekeeper said. “We believe we’re right. We believe they’re wrong.”

Meanwhile, The City’s Historic Preservation voted 5-2 on Wednesday against declaring the bar a landmark, which could have offered it some protection if building owners moved to modify the property. But Supervisor Christina Olague has talked of introducing legislation that could place a moratorium on building conversions in an area that includes the Gold Dust.

Olague has said in past meetings she’s concerned that the bustling Powell Street corridor — one of The City’s most popular tourist shopping spots — could become commonplace and lose its charm.

The Long Goodbye

December: Owners of the building housing the Gold Dust Lounge decide they’d rather have a clothing store on the popular tourist shopping strip

Feb. 23: Aging owners of Gold Dust Lounge file a lawsuit against their landlord, claiming deception and elder abuse during lease negotiations

March 10: Gold Dust Lounge lease officially runs out, but bar operators refuse to leave

March 12: In an attempt to evict the bar, building owners file legal motion against the still-defiant Gold Dust operators

March 28: Attorneys for the Gold Dust Lounge file for a stay of eviction until their court case can be vetted by a judge

April 5: Building owners respond to the claims of deception with a counter-suit seeking $25,000 and dismissal of the original suit


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Dan Schreiber

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