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Restaurant at Home … Priceless

Did you ever wonder why some attorneys represent co-ops and condos? After all these years, I have concluded that, despite the long hours and lower compensation from clients, we represent them for the stories we can later tell.

Take last night. I was home when my phone rang at around 9:45. It was one of my co-op board members calling from a meeting. A shareholder was the chef at a Japanese restaurant in White Plains, but the restaurant had closed because the mall housing it was being demolished and redeveloped for rental housing. This was mildly interesting, but, really, why was he calling me? “Well,” he said. “The shareholder and his wife opened up a take-out/delivery restaurant in their apartment.”

He went on to explain that the pair had started cooking meals at home and had a bevy of delivery workers ferrying the meals all over the White Plains area. Neighbors noticed more people coming and going from the apartment for weeks but didn’t think anything of it. And since they always cooked Japanese food, the neighbors thought nothing of them cooking more frequently. So, how were they caught?

It was elementary. A resident complained that his kitchen sink was backing up, so the super called a plumber. The plumber asked: “Why is there so much cooking grease in the main line?” A good question. The super investigated and found that the chef and his wife were dumping used cooking grease down the drain.

Feeling a bit peckish, I offered to make an undercover “buy” from the pair, but the board would have none of it. Instead, rather prosaically, I was told to issue a “cease and desist” letter, to be followed by a notice to cure.

Stories like this don’t cover a co-op attorney’s overhead, obviously, but they do have their own rewards. I’ve heard of working from home, but a shareholder turning his apartment into a Japanese take-out? Priceless.



August 1
J-51 tax exemption and abatement program – first day to file applications with HPD’s J-51 office for the third filing period in 2017.

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