Bay Ridge residents rally behind beloved restaurant facing eviction

The owners of Schnitzel Haus are hoping to raise $30,000 via GoFundMe to help pay months of accrued rent.
Schnitzel Haus

The owners of a beloved German restaurant in Bay Ridge are asking for their community’s help as they attempt to stave off eviction — and pay thousands of dollars in back-rent racked up during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have spent the past few months attempting to negotiate with our landlord but we have been unable to negotiate anything positive,” wrote business owner Fred Urban on a GoFundMe page for his 13-year-old family restaurant, Schnitzel Haus. 

Urban and his wife, Amber, launched the online fundraiser on July 22 after months of back-and-forth with the establishment’s landlord — and the unexpected loss of their 26-year-old son in April.

“The business is all we have, we wiped out our bank account already. I wiped out my 401K to try to keep the doors open,” said Urban, who set a goal of $30,000. “If we were able to get the $30,000 we are going for, we would be able to hand [the landlord] all the arrears at one time.”

Schnitzel Haus is located on Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue between 73rd and 74th streets.Schnitzel Haus

Since then, do-gooders have poured close to $10,000 into the campaign as of Aug. 6 — many of the donations accompanied by well wishes to the Urban family, who have given back to their community on countless occasions.

“Please help support a local family business who have been tirelessly there for many people in our community when in need,” wrote Bay Ridge resident Thomas Bata. “Freddie and Amber are one of our neighborhood’s warmest and generous hearts in community service and it’s our turn to support and give back to them!” 

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the Urban family was recognized as the New York Post as “Heroes of the Day” for their efforts to feed the elderly and the homeless — something, Urban said, felt like instinct.

“I’ve been doing it for years, so when COVID hit, I felt bad and thought, let’s bring them some food,” Urban told Brooklyn Paper.

But, shortly after, tragedy struck the Urbans when their son, Ritchie, died unexpectedly from a seizure.

“It is unfortunate, you can always say ‘my life is going well’ and then in one fell swoop…” Urban said. “[Ritchie] was there for day one, from the day we opened. When he turned 21, the first drink we ever had was in the restaurant. We did little mini projects, painting this and fixing this. Everything we did together.” 

The Urban family all together — clockwise from left: Ritchie, Fred, Amber, Ariel and Heidi — celebrating New Year’s Eve at Schnitzel Haus. Fred Urban

After such an insurmountable loss, Urban is hopeful he will be able to save his family business — one, he said, meant so much to his son — with the help of his community.

“This is not just a business that we open that we could care less if they close,” Urban said. “It is everything to me and my family.”

Schnitzel Haus is open for outdoor dining on weeknights from 4 pm to 9 pm, and until 10 pm on Friday. The German tavern is also open on Saturdays from noon to 10 pm, and on Sundays from 2 pm and 9 pm.