BROADWAY — In a move that almost certainly spells the end of the line for the venerable Broadway Deli, the Planning Commission on Wednesday granted the restaurant’s landlord, Promenade Gateway LLP, a permit it needs to move ahead with plans to replace the deli with two new, higher paying tenants.

The land owner wants to subdivide the Broadway Deli’s 8,500-square-foot space into separate storefronts for a smaller eatery and a retailer. The commission on Wednesday voted 5-1 to grant Promenade Gateway the conditional use permit (CUP) it needs to reconfigure the space to fit its plans for the property.

A land use consultant for Promenade Gateway, Howard Robinson, on Thursday said his client’s decision to transform the space reflects the significant changes to the Third Street Promenade real estate market that have taken place since Broadway Deli first opened its doors more than 20 years ago.

“The message is, 8,500 square feet for a restaurant on the promenade made sense in 1988 when these guys first made their deal, at the rents back then, given what the promenade was. But it’s unsustainable today. There’s no restaurant that size that can survive,” he said.

Marc Zeidler, the Broadway Deli’s general manager, said in lease extension negotiations last year Promenade Gateway wanted to nearly triple the business’s monthly rent from $55,000 to $150,000. The restaurant has signed a short-term lease extension and plans to continue doing business until the landlord begins renovating the space.

“We’re still in here until [the owner] finds a tenant or someone willing to pay his price. I don’t see us being out of here all that quickly,” Zeidler said.

While he doesn’t expect to close the deli before the end of the year, Zeidler said he’s told the restaurant’s 65 employees that the business is expecting to close its doors for good.

“They are not happy about it,” he said. “It’s an uncomfortable situation. There’s no long-term solution.”

The landlord’s plans for the space were subject to Planning Commission approval because of strict rules governing restaurants on the promenade meant to keep the street lively with dining options and outdoor patios in key locations.

The Broadway Deli’s space is required to house a restaurant at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Third Street, but the landlord’s renovation plans call for devoting the corner space to retail and setting a smaller restaurant tenant back from the corner, with an entrance on the promenade. The retail space would be roughly 5,800 square feet, and the restaurant portion would be about 2,800 square feet, Robinson said.

The request was considered so uncontroversial it was placed on the Planning Commission’s consent agenda, though commissioners chose to discuss the item before granting the CUP.

“Everybody would love to see it remain, but we also recognize the fact that people’s businesses change, people’s dining habits change … . We don’t have business rent control and we have to allow things to change,” said Planning Commission Chair Hank Koning.

Robinson said Promenade Gateway doesn’t yet have prospective tenants for the reconfigured space lined up.

“They will begin marketing the space and trying to find a retail and a restaurant tenant. In this market we have no idea how long that will take.”

nickt@www.smdp.com

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