Young and Hungry

Serendipity 3 Closes in Georgetown Amid Lawsuit From Landlord

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Serendipity 3, the Georgetown restaurant that offered a $1,000 sundae, allegedly owes its landlord nearly $100,000 in rent, utilities, real estate taxes, and other fees.

Washingtonian reported earlier that the New York transplant has closed. Court documents obtained by Y&H show that the landlord, 3150 M Street LLC, filed a lawsuit in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of D.C. Superior Court seeking to evict the restaurant on March 12. The complaint alleges the restaurant owed $98,921 from February 14 through March 31.

The Georgetown operators of Serendipity 3 have also been sued three other times this year, including twice in small claims court and once in civil court. In the civil case—the only one of those three still open—linen company ALSCO is seeking $8,480 for unpaid linen rentals and additional fees.

A call to the landlord's lawyer, Stephen Hessler, was not immediately returned, and no one picked up the phone at the Georgetown location of Serendipity 3. A man who answered the phone at the New York location said he was unaware of the closure and that founder Stephen Bruce would not be in until tomorrow. Y&H has also emailed Bruce and will update this story if and when we hear back.

Update, 3:24 p.m.: The restaurant was operated by Rodrigo Garcia and Britt Swann through a licensing agreement with the Serendipity 3 brand. Founder Stephen Bruce released the following statement through his attorney Kieran Doyle:

"I am the owner of the Serendipity 3 brand and for nearly 60 years I have operated the New York Flagship restaurant. The Georgetown restaurant was not operated by me. It was operated through a license agreement with an entity named Dessert Concepts headed by Britt Swann and Rodrigo Garcia. I had grown increasingly displeased with the quality of food and service offered at the Georgetown location and rather than allow our good name to be tarnished, I made my concerns known. It appears that rather than meet my exacting standards, they chose to close their doors. As for any landlord tenant issues, neither I nor Serendipity 3 had any dealings regarding the space. The lease would presumably have been between the landlord and Dessert Concepts. We still have 4 locations open including our NYC Flagship."

Y&H tried to reach Swann at Rhino Bar and Modern, which he is reportedly also involved in, but neither establishment answered the phones or immediately returned messages. Y&H also contacted Garcia through Facebook, but he has not yet responded either.

Read the full landlord complaint below:

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • EP Sato

    Not surprising. I liked Serendipity, but the NYers who visited the spot told me it was nowhere near as good as the other locations. And no, not just typical "NYC is better at everything" type critiques.

    Service at that spot was iffy, and the management kept an eye on folks to ensure they'd leave as quickly as possible. You know, in that same manner that McDonald's managers keep an eye on the homeless in the restaurant? That's how Serendipity managers treated all the customers...

  • EP Sato

    Not surprising. I liked Serendipity, but the NYers who visited the spot told me it was nowhere near as good as the other locations. And no, not just typical "NYC is better at everything" type critiques.

    Service at that spot was iffy, and the management kept an eye on folks to ensure they'd leave as quickly as possible. You know, in that same manner that McDonald's managers keep an eye on the homeless in the restaurant? That's how Serendipity managers treated all the customers...

    PS City Paper, whoever runs your Captcha is the devil incarnate!

  • MD

    Rodrigo Garcia, son of Marlena Kent Cooke, the former wife of the late billionaire and Washington Redskin owner, Jack Kent Cooke, and who has had a stormy relationship with his partners at Serendipity 3 Restaurant since inception, has found his restaurant closed in Georgetown. The iconic location was home for 40 years of Nathan's Restaurant & Bar. A former employee of the restaurant indicates that Garcia was not paying his bills and was facing eviction and that another partner of Garcia's stepped in to try and rescue the business. There is a rumor that Garcia may be facing possible embezzlement and theft charges in connection with the business operations. Garcia has recently married Erika Gutierrez of Georgetown's EPG PR, a full service public relations firm, and is the daughter of Carlos Gutierrez, former Secretary of the Interior in the Bush administration.

  • Thomas

    Actually, I understand that Britt did not pay the taxes to DC and that Garcia was the one holding this together. Mr, Gutierrez was Sec. of Commerce BTW.

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