Restaurant reaches deal with Smith to stay open

Rent dispute settled, cafe set to move ahead

Casey Osburn takes an order in front of a mural entitled “The Last Staff Supper,’’ by Jeff Mack. (Photos By Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff)

 

By Aubin Tyler

Globe Correspondent / February 10, 2010

NORTHAMPTON - After an emotional decision last Thursday to close their restaurant over a landlord-tenant dispute, the owners of the much-beloved Green Street Cafe have decided to keep the restaurant open after reaching a settlement with their landlord, Smith College.

Co-owner John Sielski said that he and his partner and co-owner Jim Dozmati had a change of heart after talking with their lawyer over the weekend.

“We’re so happy to have the cafe - it’s not over for us,’’ Sielski said. “This is the beginning of our busy season so we know we can pay our bills. We’re square with our landlord. And we can finally book functions - weddings, anniversaries, rehearsal dinners.’’

Sielski said he cannot comment on the confidential agreement with Smith, but the restaurant will be open at its current location on the edge of campus for at least another three years. The pair opened the restaurant in 1991, but were facing eviction after refusing to pay Smith rent since last year because they contended the college’s construction of an engineering building next door had cost them business.

The cafe owed Smith thousands of dollars in back rent.

Kristen Cole, media relations director for Smith College, said in an e-mail that the college is “pleased to have reached an agreement whereby, if monthly rent payments going forward are kept current, the cafe can stay until the end of December 2012, the end of its lease period.’’

After months of anxiety, Sielski and Dozmati are now already focusing on what they know best: food. They hope to expand the garden that provides the restaurant with fresh vegetables and plan to expand offerings of preserved foods.

“The trend was always fresh, fresh, fresh, but now I want to get into preserved fruit, putting it in brandy and using it during the winter,’’ Sielski said. “It could turn into something Jim and I may be able to do after the cafe. A lot can happen in three years.’’

© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.