VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - The owner of a Virginia Beach diner is dropping its "car show" identity in an effort to keep its lease.
The 60's music is all that is left of Jenro's Diner's original ambiance. It was once a hangout for classic car enthusiasts, but all of their pictures have been ripped off the walls.
"Everything's happened so fast," said Michael Lambaiso, the owner of Jenro's Diner, as he pulled hundreds of the pictures of classic cars out of drawers.
"The whole wall was covered in all the pictures of these local cars," he said.
Lambaiso's father opened Jenro's in 1979 and his godfather started the car show in 1987. For nearly three decades, the classic cars have pulled into the parking lot on Friday and Saturday nights.
But, they aren't welcome anymore.
Lambaiso received a letter from CentreCorp, the property manager, saying the car shows crowded the parking lot and left litter behind. The property manager works with Jenro's landlord, North American Development Group.
CentreCorp also sent Lambaiso a bill for nearly $7,000 to pay for trash and security fees. He said he will pay it, and stop the car shows, if it means saving the family business.
"We are trying to hold the lease here. I've got two years left on a 15-year lease and I'm the oldest tenant in this shopping center," said Lambaiso. "And it is a father and son thing. It's like building a tree house. Dad and I built this place so there are a lot of childhood memories."
Lambaiso is doing everything he can to separate Jenro's from the cars. He shortened his weekend hours. He is willing to give up his ABC license. And, he even got rid of the car logo he drew for the menu when he was 13 years old.
But, despite the changes, he says CentreCorp is still threatening to end the lease.
The changes have customers scratching their heads.
"I miss the cars on the wall," said Becky Young, a longtime patron. "It just added nostalgia to it."
Young says she will keep coming back for the family feel, if Lambaiso can keep the doors open.
"I just like the family friendliness," she said. "We come in here and they know who you are."
The property manager at CentreCorp did not return an email or call from 10 On Your Side Tuesday.
Lambaiso says there have been no major incidents at any of his car shows. He is looking for a new site to host car enthusiasts in the future.