East Village's Stage Restaurant has been locked in a battle with its landlord, Icon Realty, since illegal gas piping was discovered in its building's basement in March. The deli has since been served with an eviction notice, but they're not ready to vacate without a fight—they're suing Icon and are hoping to drum up $10K through crowdfunding to finance their legal fees.
The illegal piping was found in the cellar of 128 Second Avenue on March 30th, just a few days after a gas explosion led to the collapse of three buildings across the street. Icon contends that the piping was installed by Roman Diakun, the Stage's owner, an allegation the restaurant denies.
"The Stage Restaurant illegally and dangerously altered the piping and gas lines in the building without the landlord’s prior knowledge and approval and without permits from the Department of Buildings," Icon's attorney told us in a statement. "While they deny that they were also siphoning gas or that they were in the process of trying to destroy the evidence of the siphoning, we feel, when the facts are brought to light, those matters will be shown to be true as well."
But The Stage, which Con Edison tells us is a gas customer, says Icon is trying to force them out by fabricating the piping story. They've filed a lawsuit against the company, and are attempting to raise funds through crowdfunding site YouCaring to keep the 35-year-old business in its home.
"The landlord's reasoning behind the eviction relates to false and malicious claims that the Stage had been siphoning gas before its meter," a message from Diakun's son, Andrew Diakun, reads. "For my father Roman, this business is his way of life. The building is also his home. He has been working and living there longer than he has been doing anything else. This business is my family’s only form of income, and is the main source of income for all of the workers who have been working there."
The fund has raised $5,790 as of this afternoon; the Diakuns are seeking $10K in total to help pay their legal fees.