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“The homeless go in there to stay warm. We’re compassionate, but it affects our customers,” Germanotta told The Post. “When the homeless invade our areas, it becomes a less attractive place.”
According to the tabloid, Germanotta complained of other issues too, including outdated seating and facilities, poorly maintained restrooms and a problem with rodents.
To fight those concerns, Germanotta has reportedly refused to pay rent and other fees to the MTA.
MTA Communications Director Tim Minton told FOX Business that Germanotta stopped paying some of his fees as early as last summer and completely stopped paying rent in November of 2019.
Minton said the MTA worked out an agreement for Germanotta to defer rent for a while, but he refused to sign the agreement. Instead, he took "advantage of the benefits without undertaking the obligations," Minton said.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that Germanotta received a letter from the MTA saying he owed the agency more than $260,000 and if he didn’t pay the fee within two weeks, it would begin the process of reclaiming the space.
However, Germanotta told the newspaper that if the MTA did evict him, he would “demand” the organization to repay him the $1.5 million for his investment in the restaurant as well as the loss of business.
“I don’t think they were prepared [to manage the space],” he told The Post. “Quite frankly, I think they’re more interested in running the trains.”
Minton said that Germanotta's complaints of rodents and unfit bathrooms are "facts not in evidence."
He said the bathrooms are regularly cleaned and that the MTA hires a pest control company to take care of any problems, though "there is no evidence that there is any sort of unusual pest problem," Minton said.
He added that the MTA has an outreach program for homeless people in Grand Central Terminal, to get them help in a dignified way.
"Mr. Germanotta seems to be of the position that if people who are less fortunate than some of his customers choose to have a cup of coffee at a table near his restaurant that that offends him," Minton said. "The MTA is not going to be discriminating against people because they look differently than some other people or because they’re less fortunate or down on their luck."
Despite Germanotta’s complaints of lost business, the MTA has said that sales across the food court increased 6.3 percent in 2019, The Journal reported.
“This is a landlord-tenant dispute, pure and simple, in which the landlord seeks to blame his financial struggles on anyone but himself," Minton told The Post.
This story has been updated with a comment from the MTA.