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Future still iffy for Harvey Milk's American Diner

Milk Foundation attorney says they are “disappointed and disturbed”

While a previous written statement on the front door of Harvey Milk's American Diner indicated it was closed for reorganization, that's not likely to happen.

One of the Hillcrest restaurant's three partners, Frank Lechner, refused to answer questions about future plans, possible bankruptcy, vendor and lease payments, or anything else.

The Harvey Milk Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Fort Lauderdale, had an agreement with the restaurant to pay a percentage of gross sales on a quarterly basis. Florida attorney Miriam Richter represents the foundation as counsel on Harvey Milk copyrights, trademarks, and the Milk family personality rights.

“The foundation had no control over the management or operation of the restaurant,” said Richter. “While the diner was to donate one percent of their sales to the foundation, they haven't done so. The total donations have been $7818.65, which has not covered our costs associated with this venture, resulting in a net loss for the foundation….

“So, we are disappointed and disturbed by the actions of the diner that bears his name. We are very concerned about the potential damage to Harvey Milk’s name.”

San Diego District 3 councilmember and council president Todd Gloria told the Reader: “I'm sorry to see Harvey Milk's American Diner close. Not only was it a bright and active eatery, the proprietors supported many community causes. I am not aware of plans for the site, and ask the property owners and any potential lessees to work closely with neighbors to ensure its future use is appropriate for the community.”

Lechner's last email to the Reader stated: “I will let you know just as soon as I have been given the green light to do interviews again.”

An email to partner Mike Phillips, who formerly worked as a bartender at Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe, brought no response.

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While a previous written statement on the front door of Harvey Milk's American Diner indicated it was closed for reorganization, that's not likely to happen.

One of the Hillcrest restaurant's three partners, Frank Lechner, refused to answer questions about future plans, possible bankruptcy, vendor and lease payments, or anything else.

The Harvey Milk Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Fort Lauderdale, had an agreement with the restaurant to pay a percentage of gross sales on a quarterly basis. Florida attorney Miriam Richter represents the foundation as counsel on Harvey Milk copyrights, trademarks, and the Milk family personality rights.

“The foundation had no control over the management or operation of the restaurant,” said Richter. “While the diner was to donate one percent of their sales to the foundation, they haven't done so. The total donations have been $7818.65, which has not covered our costs associated with this venture, resulting in a net loss for the foundation….

“So, we are disappointed and disturbed by the actions of the diner that bears his name. We are very concerned about the potential damage to Harvey Milk’s name.”

San Diego District 3 councilmember and council president Todd Gloria told the Reader: “I'm sorry to see Harvey Milk's American Diner close. Not only was it a bright and active eatery, the proprietors supported many community causes. I am not aware of plans for the site, and ask the property owners and any potential lessees to work closely with neighbors to ensure its future use is appropriate for the community.”

Lechner's last email to the Reader stated: “I will let you know just as soon as I have been given the green light to do interviews again.”

An email to partner Mike Phillips, who formerly worked as a bartender at Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe, brought no response.

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Comments
9

My, my, my. Oh Dear! Oh Dear! Where are the Mayor, Carl, and Nichole going to be able to do lunch now???

Oct. 23, 2014

While this was a funny comment, like much of humor it's based on truth.

Oct. 24, 2014

It is officially closed due to money problems.

Harvey Milk’s Diner closes due to financial woes http://go.kswbtv.com/1zbOiXe via @fox5sandiego

Oct. 23, 2014

Right, but there are still legal issues that will have to be settled. And then the issue will be deciding what happens to the restaurant space. Will another restaurateur try their luck there? Or is it dead as an eatery? Will the property be sold off, to be combined with the Pernicano's property sale? Stay tuned.

Oct. 23, 2014

Check Harvey's grave I'll bet he rolled over.

Oct. 24, 2014

I think you may be correct.

Oct. 24, 2014

Lechner made it official today, in an article by San Diego Gay & Lesbian News. Harvey Milk's will not reopen. That's not much of a surprise.

Oct. 29, 2014

Christine Mann: It's likely to be a hotel, and probably retail at street level. No, it will not be affordable housing. And what's that nonsense about affordable housing "that Todd Gloria makes millions off of" (your words)?

Nov. 11, 2014

Update March 20, 2015: This is a photo taken through the window showing the totally-gutted interior. It looks like they didn't leave a toothpick behind!

None

March 21, 2015

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