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Family That Owns Subway Inn Fights To Save Upper East Side Bar

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The family that has run an Upper East Side bar for decades is digging in and fighting a company that wants to redevelop the site.

The Subway Inn opened 77 years ago on East 60th Street and has been run by Marcello Salinas for the past 40 years.

The developer, The World-Wide Group, has decided not to offer the bar a new lease and wants Salinas and his customers out by next week, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.

Family That Owns Subway Inn Fights To Save Upper East Side Bar

"They don't want to talk at all," said Steve Salinas, Marcello Salinas' son.

"I was taught in the service that America was the land of opportunity, and not a land where families who have worked an entire life to build a business will be bulldozed by rich investors looking to make a quick buck," Steve Salinas said.

The family has started a petition to save the bar and is calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Executive Director Kate Daly to step in.

Subway Inn / Steve Salinas
Steve Salinas speaks at the Subway Inn on Aug. 14, 2014. (credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880)

World-Wide owns much of the block where the bar is, across the street from Bloomingdale's. The real estate developer hasn't announced plans for the area but is constructing residential buildings elsewhere in the city. The Salinas family says the company plans to build luxury condos there.

The Subway Inn once served Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Its neon sign is a relic of times gone by. The worn wooden bar and scuffed floor have evaded a changing New York for this long.

Adam Ulrich, of Chicago, told Silverman he "would come back just to come here and bring our friends here."

"We don't want to see something like this with so much history and friendly people go," said Kristen Burowski, who signed the petition and showed her support with a glass of white wine at the bar.

Steve Salinas told 1010 WINS it's unfair that the Subway Inn has not been offered a new lease while several neighboring businesses have been given new deals.

"One of the stores has an additional four-year lease," he said. "Another store is like, 'We're not leaving anytime soon that we know about.' And we found out not too long ago that one of the stores on the same block that's getting torn down eventually got a seven-year lease when my father pretty much got a month-to-month lease.

"It's David versus Goliath," Steve Salinas told Silverman. "What can you do, except voice our opinions and just be loud enough to be heard?"

In a statement, The World-Wide Group said the Salinas family has known about the plans for years.

"Subway Inn has been part of the landscape of this community for many years," the developer said. "However, the bar's closing should not come as a surprise.  From the time that The World-Wide Group purchased the site in 2006 from William Ackerman and agreed to allow the Salinas family to operate the bar, it was acknowledged that a development was going to take place at the site. Over the past eight years, the bar's operators have continued to sign one year leases with a 30 day termination option, each time recognizing that the site would eventually be used for development."

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