Two New Lawsuits Against Stand Up NY

Plus, Dani Zoldan's continuing eviction saga.

Two New Lawsuits Against Stand Up NY
Image via Diana Robinson/Flickr.

On Thursday night, the Manhattan comedy club Stand Up NY officially opened its new location at Times Square restaurant Bond 45. With performances from comics like George Wallace and Roy Wood Jr., the event marked the end of Stand Up NY’s longtime tenure on the Upper West Side. As owner Dani Zoldan told West Side Rag last month, the club was no longer able to sustain itself in its old location: “Zoldan said that the plans to relocate are primarily driven by a decrease in people staying out late at night on the Upper West Side since Covid,” the report states, adding that downtown stalwart New York Comedy Club is expected to move into the old venue.

Stand Up NY, you may recall, recently faced a strike by its employees, who said the club owed them considerable back pay. Please forgive me for reneging on my promise to provide additional coverage of the strike: those plans fell through for the (I hope) good reason that it resolved in a matter of days, with the employees getting what they asked for and going back to work. Stand Up NY’s troubles have not ended, however. Earlier this month, the small business financing firm LCF Group filed two lawsuits against Zoldan and his many business entities for allegedly failing to repay cash advances from the company. (Technically the financing agreements are “purchase of future receivables” arrangements, in which the club received capital in exchange for a percentage of its future revenue, but I’ll be using some shorthand in this post.) If you’re experiencing a little déjà vu, I can’t blame you. As I reported this past July, LFC Group has previously sued Stand Up NY over its failures to repay cash advances. Last year the firm obtained two judgments against the club: one for $52,610.39 in connection with a $50,000 advance in October 2022, and another for $25,876 in connection with a $40,000 advance in August 2022. 

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According to LCF Group’s new lawsuits against Stand Up NY and Zoldan, he went back for even more capital after failing to repay his previous advances. (Far be it from me to question the judgment of small business lenders, but for some reason they gave it to him.) In April 2023, per court filings, he received $54,000 in exchange for $80,460 in future earnings. Then, in August 2023, he received $24,000 in exchange for $35,760 in future earnings. The financier alleges that he owes $22,063.63 on the first advance and $19,672.13 on the second, inclusive of fees and interest. 

If only this were the extent of Zoldan’s legal woes. As you may also recall, in 2022 his landlord initiated eviction proceedings against him and his family when they failed to leave their apartment after the expiration of a month-to-month tenancy. Under a settlement reached last year, his landlord allowed him to remain until the end of February. According to filings made by Zoldan and his landlord last week, in January he sought an extension until May 31 while he and his wife pursued a “rent-to-buy” transaction for a $2.15 million apartment in the Upper West Side. (The unit, notably, is still for sale.) After some negotiation, they reached an agreement under which Zoldan would pay the three months’ rent upfront, at an increased rate. A couple weeks later, Zoldan proposed that he instead pay in monthly installments; perhaps it is noteworthy that this proposal followed the costly resolution of his employees' strike.

In any case, his landlord rejected the offer. Zoldan responded by calling his landlord's lawyer a dick, then he declared his intention to sue over various housing violations. He hasn’t followed through on that pledge, but he has asked for a trial, alleging that his landlord failed to address conditions like “2 electrical fires, mold and leaks” over the last 11 years. 

Email from David Kaminsky, Esq to Dani Zoldan on 2/27/24: "No. We are not negotiating any further." Reply from Dani Zoldan: "Hey David - not sure why you need to be such a dick. My family has lived at 349 for 11 years and owe no rent. I believe my below request is very reasonable. I'll be filing a lawsuit against the owner by tomorrow for multiple tenant violations over the years if you can't accept my offer. Alek and Ani - you've been very nice in our conversations in the past and I feel sorry that you have to work for such a man."
Email from Aleksandr Chernogorov to Dani Zoldan on 2/29/24: "Mr. Zoldan: Landlord rejects your offer." Reply from Dani Zoldan: "Awesome. This is going to be fun."

There are some interesting tidbits in his landlord’s filings. By way of arguing that Zoldan should be able to pay $30 grand upfront, they point out that not only are Zoldan and his wife (supposedly) in the process of buying a $2 million apartment, but his wife, an orthodontist, is also in the process of buying the two-office orthodontics practice she’s worked at for the last decade. Zoldan claimed as much in a September 2023 email, included as an exhibit, in which he also made a notable claim about Stand Up NY: 

Hi Bruce - I hope all is well! Our lease is up in the coming months and wanted to explore the possibility of extending 6-12 months. My club is stable now after Covid and my wife is in the process of purchasing the Orthodontic practice (2 offices) she's been working at for 10 years. It's a big change to purchase it and move the family at the same time. Please check with Bernd to see if something can be worked out now that our financial situation is more stable. 
Thank you! 

In September 2023, Stand Up NY had just paid $115,000 to settle a wage theft lawsuit by two of its former employees. It was also thousands in arrears to multiple existing employees and allegedly owed tens of thousands to LCF Group. We now have the additional context of its move to Times Square, ostensibly because UWS foot traffic wasn’t sufficient “since Covid” to sustain it. None of this is “stable,” and yet it hardly stopped Zoldan from seeking to extend the lease on his $9,800/month apartment for six to 12 months.

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What really gets me about all of this is that Zoldan is an extremely busy man. Over the last several years he’s produced a seemingly constant stream of popup shows and festivals—including one expressly created to harass me for reporting on him—in addition to Stand Up NY’s normal programming. While he was coordinating the club’s move to Times Square, he was also producing an event in a Manhattan Mini Storage unit and the club’s ongoing “Stand Up for Israel” tour-slash-fundraiser for the IDF. The club was also a part of last month’s Knockouts Comedy Festival, an all-female festival founded by several of its employees.

Zoldan's longstanding money troubles have not remotely slowed him down, nor has the transparency of his grift inspired any outcry from the rather large corps of comedians who rely on club work to pay their bills. Perhaps they don’t understand how much power they have. Clearly he needs them much, much more than they need him. 

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