AVONDALE — The owner of the Eclipse Restaurant and Lounge, which recently drew the ire of some nearby residents with a new LED sign, abruptly shut its doors over the weekend and fired the entire staff.
Owner Rais Usmani said the restaurant will reopen in mid-February after renovations, including the construction of a new mezzanine with additional seating.
A sign posted on the door tells some 45 dismissed employees they can pick up their paychecks on Jan. 18 and re-apply for their positions once Eclipse reopens. The sign says Eclipse would open with new ownership, but Usmani said he and his wife will remain owners and hire new management.
"The whole management staff I had working for, were not doing their jobs," Usmani said, adding that he was instead going to partner with Lettuce Entertain You, which operates 33 restaurants in the Chicago area.
Though he did not go into detail about the problems with his staff, Usmani insisted Eclipse's closure had nothing to do with complaints from neighbors about noise and fights; they say it is operating as more of a nightclub than a restaurant.
Last May Eclipse was put into the deleterious impact/public nuisance process, which puts its liquor license at risk.
According to city records, two deleterious impact/public nuisance meetings were held for Eclipse, on May 10 and July 10, although they resulted in no action being taken against the club.
"We run a professional establishment," Usmani said. "This is not a rinky dink place that has lots of fights."
Usmani, who also owns a car dealership and cell phone business, added that he felt Eclipse has been unfairly targeted for complaints and that neighbors were unsupportive from the get-go.
"If I knew this neighborhood was going to give me that hard of a time I would have never invested in it," he said. "Either they become supportive, or I don't know what's going to happen."
Usmani dismissed neighbors' complaints about the new LED sign and said he doesn't worry that they'll try to put Eclipse back into the deleterious impact/public nuisance process.
"Basically I'm not going anywhere for the next 20 years, because that's my property," he said. "If my business gets shut down for any reason, I'm going to open another business there."