Longtime Valley Fixture Weiler’s Deli Files Chapter 11 By BRAD SMITH Staff Reporter A $183,000 judgment in a civil suit over a rent dispute and the construction of the Metro Orange Line busway have led a landmark Canoga Park restaurant to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to its owner. “We were in court for eight years, we lost the judgment, and the MTA construction hurt our business, but we will succeed,” said Frank Mesriani, who owns Weiler’s Deli. “It is just a matter of time. The business is good.” Mesriani’s JSJF Corp., which does business as Weiler’s Deli at 21161Victory Blvd., filed Chapter 11 June 10 in federal bankruptcy court in Woodland Hills. A status conference in the case has been set for this month. Mesriani said the restaurant, which he has owned for almost two decades, will continue serving its patrons. “If I had to guess I’d think business has dropped off about 20 or 30 percent with the Metro project,” said Mesriani, 48, of Los Angeles, who employs 15 people at the deli. “That really hurt us a lot, but we will continue serving good food. We’re going to survive, as we have for so long, due to loyalty from our customers.” Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials have worked with residents and business owners along the route of the 14-mile-long rapid busway to try and ease the burdens of the project’s construction. The work began in April 2003 and the busway is set for completion in August 2005. “We have made a lot of efforts to mitigate the impacts of construction,” said Ed Scannell, an MTA spokesman. “But whenever you have a major public works project, there is going to be a certain amount of inconvenience for people who live or work along the alignment.” The other Weilers Mesriani’s company is not affiliated with two other Weiler’s locations in the San Fernando Valley. Those restaurants, at 9046 Balboa Blvd. in Northridge and 22323 Sherman Way in West Hills, are both independently owned and not involved in the bankruptcy. All three restaurants, and a fourth that Mesriani, through JSJF, owned for a short time in Tarzana, trace their ancestry to the original Weiler’s Deli. The Weiler family sold to the current owners in the 1980s. Mesriani’s effort to open the Tarzana location also contributed to the bankruptcy. “They attempted to expand and a lease dispute arose and that led to an adverse judgment,” said Lewis Landau, a Calabasas bankruptcy practitioner who represents JSJF Corp. “The Weiler’s Deli on Victory is a successful operation. We’re going to reorganize our operation, pay our debts, and continue operating.” The bankruptcy petition filed on JSJF Corp.’s behalf lists debts of approximately $325,000, and estimated assets of less than $100,000. The largest single creditor is Wall Street Plaza LLC, which owns the site of the former Tarzana location and is owed some $183,239. Attorneys for the corporation, the Woodland Hills firm of Hanger, Levine, & Steinberg, did not respond to a request for comment. The case is scheduled for a status conference July 20 before Judge Kathleen T. Lax in Courtroom 301, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, 21041 Burbank Blvd. in Woodland Hills.