Protests, viral videos and pilaf: A legendary NYC eatery’s bizarre real estate battle

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Tastes Of Persia NYC’s Owner In Heated Dispute

Tastes Of Persia NYC’s Owner In Heated Dispute

A dispute over one rent at one New York’s most eclectic eateries has boiled over – fights, 911 calls and all.

For seven years, Saeed Pourkay ran his Persian takeout counter Taste of Persia NYC in a corner of the Pizza Paradise restaurant on 18th Street with a rent-sharing agreement with the pizzeria’s owners. All seemed well until a change of ownership prompted his exit from the space this year. Now Pourkay and his brother spend their free time picketing outside the restaurant, urging patrons not to eat there, according to the New York Times.

What happened?

In the week or so after Pourkay cleared out his space earlier this month, the owners of the pizzeria sold Persian food via a nearly identical setup under the name Tasty Persia. Pourkay contends that those new owners are trying to capitalize on the following he built.

Pourkay got into a physical altercation with one of the new owners, Sam Magableh, when he turned up to pick up the rest of his equipment from the space.

Magableh and his father, also an owner, have since shut down the Persian operation and insist they’ve done nothing wrong. Pourkay paid a quarter of the rent to the previous owners, but the Magablehs wanted to change that to a 50/50 split after adding up the extra costs of electricity and gas attributed to Pourkay’s operation. Magableh also argued that Pourkay doesn’t have a monopoly on Middle Eastern food.

Pourkay has canceled a plan trip to Iran and is meeting with a pro-bono lawyer with plans to sue for intellectual property theft. In the meantime he said he’d continue his protest outside his former restaurant.

Pourkay’s fans set up a GoFundMe to help him pay for a space of his own and it has so far raised more than $22,000. [NYT]Dennis Lynch

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