Russell Street Deli to close following landlord dispute

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Russell Street Deli plans to close its location at 2453-2469 Russell St. following a dispute with its landlord.

Another restaurant in a Russell Street building in Eastern Market is closing shop after the building shifted ownership last year.

Ben Hall, chef and co-owner of the Russell Street Deli, told the Detroit Free Press Monday that the 30-year hot spot in the neighborhood will close at the end of September following a dispute with the building's new landlord.

Hall was not immediately available to comment.

Entities linked to Linden and Sanford Nelson, who are real estate investors based in Metro Detroit, bought the two-story, 18,000-square-foot building at the corner of Russell Street and the Fisher Service Drive for $20 million in late June, according to Wayne County Register of Deeds records.

In a statement, FIRM Real Estate LLC of which Sanford Nelson is the company's president said Monday was the first time it had heard of the deli's plan to close.

The company said the dispute involves safety issues. An April 12 investigation by the Detroit's Building Safety Engineering Environmental Department following an anonymous complaint about the restaurant's flooring, however, found no issues, spokeswoman Tiffany Crawford said.

"There were supposed to be repairs to the flooring," she said. "That was done. We didn't find any additional complaints."

The real estate company said the deli had failed to address key maintenance matters over several years per its 2007 lease that remains in effect until 2021.

"We have never wanted them to close and, from the very beginning, have sought to resolve the matter in good faith," the company said in a statement.

The building at 2453-2469 Russell St. is also home to Supino Pizzeria and Zeff's Coney Island. Mootown Ice Cream & Dessert Shoppe also recently closed. Detroit Kung Fu Academy has moved into another building in Eastern Market at 1353 Division that is owned by Sanford Nelson, according to reports.

Farmers Restaurant in Eastern Market also closed abruptly when the owners slapped a sign on their door saying that they were retiring after Sanford Nelson purchased its building on Market Street.