Ocean Mall opens, tenant woes continue

By Juan Carlos Fanjul - bio | email

RIVIERA BEACH, FL (WFLX)--On New Year's day Johnny Longboats was slammed with customers enjoying food and drinks just steps away from the ocean.

For this tenant that just re-opened at the new Ocean Mall after being closed for a year and half during construction, things are looking up for 2010.

"We are excited, we are elated to have all these people here. We are doing very well," said Lenny Fortune, the owner of Johnny Longboats.

The eatery reached an arrangement with the developer and landlord of the Ocean Mall, Catalfumo Construction, to stay closed during the demolition and construction of the structure located on Singer Island.

But 3 businesses did not reach an agreement, meaning the construction went on around them.

After 30 years on the same spot, formerly successful restaurant Portofino's is on life support.

"I had 36 employees and now I am down to 5. We have lost about 96% of my business," said an exasperated Solomon Kedmi.

The owner of Portofino's says access roads to the mall had been closed.

He also claims no signage was posted indicating there was still life at the mall despite the construction.

Chris Pappas, the owner of Subway, says his business took a 40% hit.

"I think in the United States of America this has to be rectified. A lot of money was lost. You can't come in here and destroy a man's business. It's that simple," he said.

But Fortune countered: "In the defense of Catalfumo, they were very nice to us. The end result is fantastic."

2 of 3 hold-out tenants will no head to court to get a settlement.

We could not reach Catalfumo construction for comment during the holiday.