The ongoing financial imbroglio between the owner of the Upper West Side steakhouse known as The Prime Grill and the iconic Lincoln Square Synagogue does not seem to be heading towards any kind of tangible resolution, according to a recently published article in The Jewish Week.
The main point of contention remains the rental fees that Joseph Allaham (the owner of many top Manhattan kosher restaurants such as Prime Grill and Bentley, as well as serving as the caterer for the Lincoln Square Synagogue) allegedly owes to the synagogue.
In January of 2016, the Jewish Voice reported that Lincoln Square claimed that Allaham did not follow through with providing $1.5 million he had promised to help finance a banquet hall in the synagogue’s new $50 million space. Allaham blames the synagogue for costing him potential revenue by delaying the hall’s construction.
Trying to bring the parties together late last year to pursue a viable resolution to this protracted matter was Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division. Rabbi Herschel Schachter had previously served as arbiter in the matter and had issued a ruling that called on Allaham to pay Lincoln Square $1.4 million in addition to attorneys fees and court costs.
Ultimatums are now being issued as the matter continues to heat up. It has been reported that Rabbi Genack had previously told The Jewish Week that the OU would rescind its kosher certification of Allaham’s restaurants if he did not comply with Rabbi Schachter’s ruling.
Allaham, however, has said that he did make an offer to make a financial settlement with Lincoln Square Synagogue and that Rabbi Schachter not only approved of his offer but gave it is “blessing.” Allaham further alleges that Lincoln Square synagogue never responded to his offer but that it is still on the table for their consideration.
According to the article in the Jewish week, the proposed settlement deal allows for Allaham to make regular payments on the amount that Lincoln Square is asking for. That would translate into Allaham paying out the $1 million over a five year period ($200,000 a year). It was reported that Lincoln Square has begun to lose trust in the restaurant owner and never decided on whether to accept the offer.
Lincoln Square has access to Prime Grill’s financial disclosures as it was a result of the court order against Allaham that entitles the synagogue to an asset search. Sources connected to the synagogue have said that they believe that Allaham may be hiding assets and a synagogue representative was quoted as telling the Jewish Week that bank records belonging to Allaham indicate that he has been moving “hundreds of thousands of dollars” out of his accounts in rapid succession as of late.
By: Mark Kubilansky