Nick Berry didn’t decide to install parking meters behind his restaurant, Courtyard Cafe on Wilton Drive, but he’s paying the price – literally.
Berry estimates he’s lost $10,000 since his landlord started charging for parking last month, a decision he and the other business owners say they had no control over.
But despite having nothing to do with the decision, and working with the other business owners to get the owner to allow one hour of free parking for customers, Berry is being blamed by at least some people.
In an anonymous letter mailed to Berry, a group of “once loyal Courtyard customers” wrote that they would no longer spend money at the restaurant because of the parking.
The author of the anonymous letter said they were a regular customer at Courtyard for years and eats two or three meals a week. “. . . this is the last straw” they wrote. “Our group – and I’m talking about 15 or more people – are avoiding your café as well as the other businesses held captive by your landlord. We can go to many other cafes and diners with free parking. How can one enjoy a glass of wine, appetizers, one of your outstanding special meals followed by dessert and coffee in SIXTY minutes? Your food will be missed, but you are not the only choice for delicious meals. Your [expletive] up landlord has put the ‘nail in the coffin’ as far as we are concerned.”
Berry denied it took most people more than an hour to eat at his restaurant but said “it’s disheartening” to suffer consequences for something out of his control. “Why some people would not support us during this time for something the landlord did is beyond me.”
He also said he does much more for the community than many other restaurants. “[Do they] support our community in any way? Do they do the 30 plus fundraisers a year and give back to our community?”
But not everyone blames Berry. Some commenters on Courtyard’s Facebook thanked him and the other owners for negotiating the free hour of parking. “Shawn and Nick, thank you for arranging this for your customers. Many of us were concerned about what our options would be for parking. We are very happy with this solution,” wrote Frank Bailey.
To get free parking back without restrictions, Berry said that he and the owners of New York Grilled Cheese and Castelli Real Estate Services are suing the owner of the shopping center.
The decision by the owner to charge for parking, including those with handicap permits, also resulted in an angry response. Iraq War veteran and Oakland Park Commission candidate Scott Herman said it’s disrespectful to charge disabled veterans and others with handicapped parking permits for parking.
A representative of the owner said he is unable to comment on the matter.