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You huckleberries! Restaurateurs battle over dead business

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A Third Avenue restaurateur whose business is underwater is clinging to the hope that he can revive his failing storefront — even after his partners sneaked in, ransacked the place, and took everything that wasn’t bolted down in the dead of night.

Andrew Chamberas stands guard at Huckleberry’s, the gutted, closed restaurant between 88th and 89th streets day and night to ward off another raid, claiming he’d rather go down with the ship than hand over the keys.

“This place has the potential to be a gold mine,” said Chamberas, who opened the New Orleans-style restaurant with two partners who he claims wanted their investment to pay off too quickly. “They expected the dough to just come in after four months of being open.”

Chamberas and his partners, Michael Stoupalas and Nick Vrakis, have faced eviction since September because they failed to pay their landlord rent for six months, but a legal agreement between the parties would have absolved them of their debt — as long as they walked away from the business.

But Chamberas refused to sign, and sued his co-owners for $500,000 over the disagreement.

That’s when his partners took things to the next level by cleaning the place out in hopes of salvaging their investment. The midnight marauders struck Huckleberry’s late last month, loading a moving van with the restaurant’s stove, broiler, fryers, espresso machine, coffee maker, computers, cash register, phones, silverware, condiments, decorative jars filled with pasta, and a framed drawing of the Virgin Mary — among other items.

“We went and emptied the place,” said Stoupalas, who claims he’s sank nearly $160,000 into the restaurant and intends to sell off the equipment to pay down the debts.

Stoupalas added that Chamberas, who was in charge of day-to-day operations of the restaurant, was to blame for its failure.

“Pretty much it’s bad management,” said Stoupalas. “Business was good at first, but then it died down. Now I have vendors and people that owe us money coming after me.”

But Chamberas said that his partners need to be more patient.

“They thought that when they opened up the business, the dollars would just come in, but they haven’t,” he said.

Now, Chamberas said that he is trying to get another investor to get the place back online, and claims he still has vendors that will extend him credit.

“It needs reinvestment and patience,” he said. “I’m hanging on. You fight to the end.”

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Reader Feedback

Jay from Bay Ridge says:
since the store is now mostly emptied, might as well change the business model to serve a different target. Other businesses around servicing children are booming, with a new dance school, art club, and toy store around.
Oct. 5, 2011, 9:10 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:

With respect, we ate lunch there one day and the food and service were awful. We usually give a place another try after a bad experience, but not his one.

Just sayin'.
Oct. 5, 2011, 1:35 pm
GeorgeD from Sunset Park says:
This section of Bay Ridge has been struggling. If the place was not established for at least 10 years, it is doomed to fail. The investors should have done their homework for 8901 Third Ave.

Samm's Restaurant & Lounge was there for a few years, sold to Uncle Buck's, which did a nice restoration. It was quickly sold and turned into Shenanigans on Third. NYS Liquor Authority fined them heavily. It became Huckleberry’s N.Y.. This is only in a span of 4 years.

They should close up and dissolve the corporation.
Oct. 6, 2011, 1:56 am
Mike from Bay Ridge says:
Always sad when a restaurant closes. Unlike places you may feel forced to go to (work, the gym, libraries, etc.), people tend to associate restaurants and diners with positive experiences and pleasant memories.

Although it wasn't around for long (compared to Hinsch's which also just closed but after 63 years), I'm sure it made some people happy and could have had a bright future if both the economy and better managemnet had been on its side.
Oct. 6, 2011, 4:25 pm
Bayridgegone from Bay Ridge says:
They should give up, it will be a halal meat or a mosque soon enough. Like the rest of bay ridge
Oct. 10, 2011, 3:02 pm
86er from Bay Ridge says:
The truth of the matter is that Huckleberry's was mediocre.

We gave them several chances (over a span of months) but was always disappointed. They consistently got orders wrong and the service was atrocious.

I loved the fact that they had a great menu, but the food just ended up being standard diner fare

The staff was a mess. I applaud that they tried to employ local kids - but they all seemed more interested in socializing with their friends than working.
Oct. 11, 2011, 9:47 am
Andrew from Bay Ridge says:
We gave that place at least 4 chances. Each experience was worse than the one before. Coming from a person who has run restaurants the partners were right to get out. Pathetically mis-managed.
Nov. 6, 2011, 11:12 am
Staten island from Bay street says:
I remember that guy Andreas from Staten Island! Horrible Greek food manager always yelling at the Mexican staff and cursing in Greek!! I would never eat in that place.
June 12, 2015, 5:40 pm

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