Harvey Milk’s Diner closes due to financial woes

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SAN DIEGO – A Hillcrest community staple has closed and it’s likely the Harvey Milk Diner won’t reopen.

Many employees of the restaurant located in the heart of Hillcrest at University and 6th avenues weren’t aware they’d be out of work until their last paychecks bounced.

Adam Brown worked at the diner and told Fox 5 he was one of many employees who went to cash their check at the business across the street and was denied money.

“I’ve not been paid for this entire month,” said Brown.

“This is not right,” said Sam Arabo, who owns the cash checking business on University Avenue.

Fox 5 learned $4,500 worth of paychecks bounced and tracked down one of the diner’s owners, Frank Lechner, who admitted the business simply ran out of cash.

“We had an enormous amount of expenses in the back of the house that just ate up our reserves,” said Lechner.

He admitted he was wrong for not letting his employees know sooner that the diner would close and for not getting them their money.

“We’re very, very sorry that this happened and we apologize for the not such timely manner that we communicated with everybody,” he said.

UPDATE: After initially reporting this story, Lechner was seen inside his restaurant Wednesday evening paying his employees cash.

9 comments

  • jerrypritikin

    Shame on the Harvey Milk Foundation and Stuart Milk for allowing the name to be used for Licensing. They have too many simular agreements with all kinds of businesses that use Harvey Milk’s name to profit… just as long as they pay the fee.

  • Gary Swenson

    Unless it’s maybe called “W’s” BBQ in Crawford, TX most restaurant patrons want to go to a place for a good meal. They don’t go because of politics, lifestyle, or the “look at me” factor. Harvey Milk’s was doomed from the start. How can the name of a restaurant be more polarizing than this. Maybe their food wasn’t good enough to overcome that.

  • Drew Kroft

    We always had great meals there — and it seemed like they were finally working out the operational kinks common to new restaurants. Very sad to see them closing.

  • Edward Anderson

    ” He admitted he was wrong for not letting his employees know sooner that the diner would close and for not getting them their money.

    “We’re very, very sorry that this happened and we apologize for the not such timely manner that we communicated with everybody,” he said. ”

    Hey, Crapburger…you know, that blanket apology crap works with Career Politicians, but handing out bad checks in not considered “…not such timely manner that we communicated with everybody…”. The timeliness with which you commit an act of forgery has nothing to do with not letting people who depend on their pay know that your account is empty…

  • Jase Watson

    I know one of the co-owners and he’s a good guy that was unfortunately mixed in with bad business partners. The food was pretty good and prices were in line with other food establishments in the area (right on the main strip! Prime real estate!). Shame on the other owners for not giving their employees forewarning and ensuring employees welfare first. The renovations that they did to the building I would assume is what took a good blow to their reserves. Hopefully someone from the community will be able to step up and take over; I believe that with the right owners/management strategy it would do well.

  • Arthur Page

    I gave that place 3 tries and I was disappointed 3 times. Sadly, it wasn’t worth the gas to drive just to get gas.

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