Magdelene (524 Lorimer St.), a vibrant Lebanese bar and restaurant in Williamsburg, is in danger of closing. The restaurant’s owner, Magda Sayeg, told Greenpointers that her landlord is attempting to terminate the lease she signed in 2019.
“I opened Magdalene in 2020, two weeks before the Covid lockdown. I have spent the last three years struggling to survive,” Sayeg said, adding proudly that the fact that she is still in business shows that all of her hard work paid off.
Now, Sayeg is in the middle of a lawsuit with the landlord. “I would not pursue any lawsuit unless my lawyer and I believed we are in the right,” said Sayeg, who believes that her landlord is trying to terminate her lease in an effort to raise the rent of space on Lorimer Street.
Sayeg is incredibly upset because she spent $500,000 on improvements to the property over the past few years and wants to stay in the space. “I have already spent well over $30,000 in legal fees… money I could have used to add heaters outside, expand the kitchen, or even hire a manager,” Sayeg added.
Greenpointers reached out to the landlord and received no comment.
“All I wanted to do was celebrate the food of my childhood growing up in Texas with a Lebanese father,” Sayeg said. “Small business owners like me are a dying breed,” Sayeg explained. “I hope we can all recognize that we are losing the essential qualities that make any neighborhood special and unique.”
In an effort to keep fighting the legal battle, Sayeg has set up a Go Fund Me page where neighbors and fans of Magdelene can donate to help Sayeg. The Go Fund Me has a goal of $75,000 listed, and as of publication, $6,834 has been raised.
Magdelene offers a generous list of creative cocktails and drinks, weekday dinner with mezze, mains, salads, seafood, and oysters, and weekend brunch including specialties like lamb hash and eggs and falafel fried oysters with cheddar grits.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday 6 p.m. – 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. – midnight, and Saturday and Sunday noon – midnight, but the kitchen closes at 10 p.m. everyday.