The Bellevue Theatre is not Jesse Sayegh’s first rodeo. Sayegh is the owner of the building at 268 Bellevue Avenue that houses the Bellevue Theatre, but before that, he also was the operator of the Bellevue Theatre (Sayegh operated the theater initially and then sold operations to Clearview). Sayegh has a long history of owning and or operating movie theaters in New Jersey and was credited with saving the Rialto in Westfield, purchasing it in 1997 from United Artists.
Sayegh’s attorney Angelo Cifelli, of Piro Zinna Cifell Paris & Genitempo in Nutley, says Sayegh has been trying again for months to reach an agreement with Bow Tie Cinemas.
“Bow Tie’s lease didn’t just expire,” says Cifelli. “Bow Tie failed to exercise their option to renew.”
According to Cifelli, Bow Tie chose not to exercise their option and they had two ten year options. “They wanted concessions on some other theaters my clients owns. He offered some that from his point of view were quite substantial, but Bow Tie was still not willing to renew.”
When Sayegh learned that they would not renew, Cifelli says he offered to pay Bow Tie to leave the seating and equipment in the theater, so it had a viable chance of remaining an movie theater, but was turned down.
“They [Bow Tie] are going to dismantle the theater,” says Cifelli. “They own the equipment. Once they dismantle that theater it’s almost impossible for a private entity to come in and take it over, because it would be so expensive.”
“My client has been negotiating with them for months to try and keep them there, but they were not going to stay with concessions at the other theaters,” says Cifelli, adding that Sayegh has been reaching out to other private theater operators without success. As far as his client knows, Cifelli says Bow Tie could be dismantling the theater very soon since the lease ends November 30.
Cifelli wonders why Bow Tie is dismantling, given that it would be hard to repurpose the contents of the theater. “They are going to get 10 cents on the dollor on all the stuff they pull out,” says Cifelli, plus the expense of ripping it out.
Despite the fact that Bow Tie told his client they weren’t making money, Cifelli says Sayegh believes if Bow Tie left the equipment/seating, someone could be found to operate the theater so it could run and be successful.
Cifelli adds his client would be amenable to hearing from someone in the township or from the Montclair Film Festival to try and come up with an alternative to the current situation.