Schmidt’s – Calabro settle local rental dispute


The feud between landlord Daniel Calabro and tenant Dennis Schmidt is settled on Shelter Island, although there could be future court action between the two men in Suffolk County Supreme Court.

In Shelter Island Justice Court on November 6, both parties consented to a warrant and judgment with Mr. Schmidt agreeing to pay Mr. Calabro $21,137 for two months rent.

Also On November 6, Justice Mary-Faith Westervelt directed that any other issues between the two parties were to be pursued in Suffolk County Supreme Court.

Mr. Calabro’s attorney, Mary Whelan of Sag Harbor, wouldn’t comment on the content of anything pending in Suffolk County Supreme Court except to say, “It’s in process.”

Aside from whatever is pending in the higher court, there has been no other legal action between Mr. Calabro and Dennis Schmidt, although Mr. Schmidt said Mr. Calabro told him to expect to be sued for back wages.

He explained that when he first opened the store, Mr. Calabro would stop in some days and while he wasn’t hired to work, he voluntarily did so on occasion. Mr. Schmidt said he took it as a gesture of friendship, the same as he had when Mr. Calabro would provide lunches for the work crew that was preparing the store to open.

Ms. Whelan said she wasn’t aware of any case involving back wages and that she was only representing Mr. Calabro on the rent case. Mr. Calabro couldn’t be reached for comment.

In early October, customers arriving at Schmidt’s for morning coffee were greeted by a locked door and a sign reading “Store Closed. Thanks for your patronage.” It invited customers to visit Schmidt-owned stores in Southampton and North Sea.

It was not the first spat between landlord and tenant, nor was it the first encounter between Mr. Calabro and a tenant.

Since Schmidt’s replaced Fedi’s at the Route 114 site in the Center in June 2013, Dennis Schmidt and his son Daniel have twice before posted signs saying the business was for sale, once in January 2015 and again in January 2016.

Mr. Calabro claimed he was due about $100,000 in back rent and rent he said was due through April 20, 2018. Combined with court costs, that would cost the Schmidt’s about $100,000. Brian Doyle, the Schmidts’ attorney, said the lease ran only through the end of March 2018.

At the time Mr. Calabro filed his case against Mr. Schmidt, he threatened to sue Shelter Island Town Police if they allowed anything to be taken from the store without a court order.

A feud with another tenant  Bella Vita Pizza, at different Route 114 location in the Center,  resulted in its owner shutting the business and leaving town for awhile.

But Bella Vita opened in a site farther south on Route 114.

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