Picket Fences: After Court Battle, Wechsler’s and International Split Backyard

Stephen Rex Brown

Go enjoy the lovely weather in International Bar’s backyard and you’ll be surprised to find a wooden fence splitting it in half. The divider is the result of a court battle roughly a year ago that pitted the owners of the bar against the neighboring German sausage and beer joint.

A co-owner of International Bar, Shawn Dahl, said that the landlord of both businesses, Steven Croman, had rented the whole backyard to International when it opened after its renovation, and subsequently rented half of it to Wechsler’s when it opened in 2009.

“When Wechsler’s came along it turned out that the landlord had rented them the backyard as well,” Ms. Dahl said, later adding, “I blame the landlord.”

The landlord, Steven Croman, said that it was never in question who had the right to the backyard (or rather, backyards). “The lease clearly outlined who had what. International took it upon themselves to use it when it wasn’t being used,” he said. “We won, they had to pay our legal fees.”

And the backyard battle cost a pretty penny. “After $50,000 in legal fees we had to give up. It was a good hunk of our income, we just could not afford it,” Ms. Dahl said.

Wechsler’s appeared on this month’s Community Board agenda seeking support for beer in the backyard, but the item was withdrawn.

“It’s a drag,” said Ms. Dahl. “The backyard is still a nice spot even though it’s half as big.”

A call to the owner of Wechsler’s was not returned.

Update | 6:13 p.m. Owner Andre Wechsler said that he was “tired of talking about” the brouhaha, and that the whole problem stemmed from leases that did not precisely define the backyards. “Our relationship went downhill after that, which is a shame,” Mr. Wechsler said regarding the owners of International Bar. “But what can you do?”