Avon Board Nixes Longtime Pavilion's Lease
Avon Pavilion loses lease in surprise move
Longtime Avon restaurateur Rob Fishman, owner of the Avon Pavilion, went to Borough Hall on Monday to show officials new blueprints for rebuilding the boardwalk mainstay.
He left without a restaurant.
Fishman said he sat down with Tim Gallagher, borough administrator, to talk about his new plans to rebuild the pavilion after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the restaurant that stood at 600 Ocean Avenue for 23 years.
Gallagher was grim, Fishman said. He had just received a resolution by fax to be added to Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. It revoked the lease for the Avon Pavilion.
“I was stunned,’’ Fishman said. “I was excited that I had found a better way to use the space. I had been working with the borough for the past three months on plans for the rebuild.’’
At the meeting Monday night, the Board of Commissioners — Avon’s governing body —- voted 2-1 to revoke the Pavilion’s lease. Mayor Robert Mahon and Commissioner Frank Gorman voted in favor. Commissioner Robert McGovern cast the lone vote against.
Repeated calls to Gallagher were not returned Thursday.
“It’s pretty devastating and shocking,’’ said Sari Perlstein, a pavilion manager of more than 20 years who runs the boutique behind the restaurant. “I don’t even know why this is happening. I’ve spent the last few days just canceling orders.”
The commissioners’ move has shocked scores of Pavilion supporters, who have rallied to support the boardwalk fixture. An online petition was hastily created aimed at demanding the commission reverse its decision.
People have signed on in droves. By late Thursday afternoon, the petition had garnered more than 1,000 signatures.
The Avon Pavilion’s Facebook page also encourages people to call or write borough officials to get the decision reversed.
Fishman, of Bradley Beach, said he’s simply befuddled.
“I can’t think of anything that we did wrong,” Fishman said. “Whenever we were called on I thought we were there 100 percent.”
Fishman, who also owns the Exit 98 store on the Belmar boardwalk, said Avon’s decision is exactly the opposite of Belmar’s approach, which is honoring the leases of all its boardwalk businesses.
“I mean, I had no idea there were any problems, any issues,’’ Fishman said. “If there are problems, don’t you come and talk to your tenant first?’’
Fishman said he smells a rat and is considering legal action.
“I believe there’s another agenda here,’’ he said. “There’s a backstory. I just don’t know what it is.’’
Meanwhile, Perlstein said she is just going to try to figure out what’s next for her.
“I guess when my heart isn’t as broken I’ll figure out what I’m going to do,’’ Perlstein said.