In a way, Rick is glad it's over.
After a meeting with a judge yesterday, Rick Olivieri, chief cook and bottle-washer of the legendary Rick's Philly Steaks, agreed to vacate his venue in the Reading Terminal Market by October.
He had been engaged in a year-long fight with the market management, which had been trying to evict him since last summer in a dispute over a long-term lease.
"I'm not happy," Rick said yesterday. "But it's a relief in a way. My family has been tortured by this for over a year now."
He is relieved that in yesterday's settlement, management waived the legal fees it could have collected, which Rick said could have amounted to nearly $700,000.
"That was unfathomable," Rick said.
He said he will continue making sandwiches until October.
Rick, who operates a steak shop in Ashburn Alley in Citizens Bank Park, wants a Center City location and said he is looking at the area around Broad and Arch streets.
The writing was on the wall in February when Common Pleas Judge Mark I. Bernstein ruled that Rick's Philly Steaks had failed to prove that the Reading Terminal Market management had failed to negotiate in good faith.
He was ordered by management to vacate the shop, which his family had operated in the market for 25 years, when his previous lease ran out last July.
Rick contended that management had offered him a new lease, which management denied. He said that terms of a new lease were being discussed when he got his eviction notice. That prompted him to go to court. Management promptly filed a countersuit.
Management wants to install a Tony Luke's sandwich shop in Rick's location.
The market is run by the Reading Terminal Market Corp., which has a seven-member volunteer board. The members are appointed by the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, the Reading Terminal Market Preservation Fund and the market's merchants' association, which Olivieri once headed. *