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Director says unstable business led to Hollywood Diner lease’s end

If the Hollywood Diner was viable under its current operator, Baltimore would not have terminated its lease, according to the executive director of the nonprofit Chesapeake Center for Youth Development.

Ivan Leshinsky said Wednesday that CCYD did not comply with the terms of its agreement with the city, including neglecting to give expenditure reports and subletting the city-owned property to current operator Cheryl Townsend.

The city leased the diner to CCYD in 1991. The nonprofit used it as a training site for at-risk youths.

If the diner was still being used for training, and was financially stable, the city would not have pulled the plug, Leshinsky said.

“We were supposed to be operating continuously,” said Leshinsky, who was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

CCYD sublet the diner to Townsend last March. Talk of its closing circulated in September, and the lease was terminated by the city on Dec. 14.

But Townsend kept the diner open until Dec. 31, hoping for a second wind. She closed it in January to redecorate and hire new staff.

“She took that operation down, so nobody knew when it was going to be open or not,” Leshinsky said. He said that CCYD did not continually receive financial reports from Townsend either.

Townsend was granted a right to entry through the end of March at the Hollywood Diner property, located at East Saratoga and Holliday streets. The city is accepting requests for proposals to run the diner.

She said Monday she probably will not make a bid to continue running the diner.

Leshinsky said he is hopeful that a new partner for CCYD and the diner will emerge, but that the lease responsibility will fall on that third party.

“To have the benefit of an internship [program], but not have to report to a government agency will be one less headache,” he said. “The city said they would keep our name out there.”