When Sheriff’s officers pulled up to Fiorenza Ristorante, 7404 Madison St. in Forest Park June 20, they weren’t looking to sample the risotto in squid ink. Instead, they closed and padlocked the restaurant in an eviction dispute over late rent with landlord Jay Javors and Midwest Property Group in Chicago.
Owner Bill Pierson said the restaurant was “a couple months late” in paying rent, because they were waiting for $190,000 in working capital that had been delayed.
But Pierson insisted the year-old eatery, which serves northern Italian cuisine in an elegant setting is not permanently closed and he hopes to negotiate a deal with the landlord.
“Our lawyers are working on it as we speak,” Pierson said. “We’ve been talking to the landlord all the while and saying, ‘please be patient, we’re waiting for this working capital to come through.'”
“Every business needs working capital the first couple of years, especially restaurants,” Pierson said.
Meanwhile, Pierson said, “food is going bad and our personal property is locked inside [the restaurant].”
But Javors’ lawyer, Tim McLean, of Clingen Callow & McLean in Wheaton disputed that Pierson had tried to negotiate anything.
“[Pierson] was non-respondent to a payment proposal in April from Midwest Property Group,” McLean said.
Midwest Property filed a suit against Pierson and the restaurant for $17,922 in back rent in April. On May 23, the court delivered a judgment of back rent, plus $12,169.70 in court costs and attorney’s fees. McLean said, “Pierson didn’t come to the hearing” at Maybrook courthouse.
Pierson said his lawyers are attempting to negotiate an emergency settlement within the next couple of days and have an appeal hearing in July.
Pierson pointed out he spent $250,000 and several months remodeling the building, including creating an outdoor dining space by pushing back the entrance of the building.
“I took his eyesore of a building and made it into a beautiful place on Madison and now [Javors] wants to take it,” he said. “We hope it’s not over. We’re trying to get it worked out and asking the landlord to be a decent human being.”