Rumors that the iconic Utopia Diner was up for sale were put to bed last week when the landlord and owner came to an agreement.
Mike Sabry, 64, who has owned the eatery at 267 Amsterdam Ave. for 37 years, explained that due to COVID-19 and the drastic loss of revenue, he has not been able to pay rent throughout the pandemic.
Sabry said he felt “relieved” that he will stay afloat and not be forced to shutter a staple of the UWS. The restaurant is a neighborhood favorite, a spot where Comptroller Scott Stringer had held fundraising meetings and breakfasts.
Landlord Mike Laub recently listed the property online with a broker and Sabry said he was dumbfounded. Sabry told the West Side Spirit he knows he owes six months’ rent, but money does not grow on trees.
He explained he is doing his best to stay open, often using his personal money.
According to Sabry, he and Laub spoke around Aug. 21 and then last Monday he saw the ad online for his diner. He also received a letter from a collector asking for money.
“I understand he has expenses,” Sabry commented. “I pay every week from my pocket to make the business run.”
When asked if the eatery was definitely off the market, Laub said, “we came to temporary terms and it will stay open as long as he lives up to his end of the deal.” Both Sabry and Laub did not specify what the terms of the agreement were.