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Perks Cafe downtown closing over dispute with landlord

The Perks Café location in downtown’s Sidway Building is closing until its ventilation system can be ruled safe by city inspectors.

The building, at 777 Main St., has a first-floor restaurant kitchen served by a hood and exhaust system that has been described as a fire hazard by city fire safety inspectors, said Perks owner Bob Newman.

“We’re closing today,” he said. Perks stopped paying rent in June, in an attempt to force landlord Vie Management to act, Newman said. The resulting eviction action has a hearing scheduled for Aug. 28, he said.

An attorney for Vie Management described the matter as a landlord-tenant dispute. "This place has been permitted by the city for years, back to when it was Kaydara," said Larry Rubin.

The landlord has just gotten an estimate for the required work, and are reviewing the situation, Rubin said. "This is the first they're hearing it may take actual repairs to it, instead of it just being cleaned.

"Certainly the owner wants to make sure the place is in code compliance. They have just been made aware that there is a problem in it. It has passed all inspections up until now, so they're trying to figure it out and sort through it."

Newman said state regulations require that bends in ventilation systems have access panels for cleaning, and a drain by the fan that puts the smoke outside, to let grease escape.

“Our ventilation system does not meet code, can’t be cleaned, and the fire department says it’s a fire hazard,” Newman said. "Our bottom line is the safety of our customers, our staff, and the people who live above us in the building.

"This unit has neither, so it’s never been cleaned, in like eight to 10 years. So now we have grease running out of the vents, running down the walls into the cooking area, and the Health Department says it’s a huge health hazard. We’ve been going round and round with the landlord on this for eight months, and we said enough’s enough."

He guessed that a shutdown would last at least two weeks before the vent can be fixed.

“Hopefully this will be resolved soon,” said Newman.

Perks Cafe expands to downtown location

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