RIVER NORTH — The future of a River North nightclub drawing heat from its landlord, alderman and many neighbors is now in the hands of an appellate court after an eviction order.
An order for possession, or a court-ordered eviction, was issued in January against Nouveau Tavern, 358 W. Ontario St., Cook County court records show.
The order was promptly met with an appeal from the club's owners, who have kept the business open as a state appellate court weighs its fate. Chicago attorney Robert A. Boron, who represents the club's landlord, said the eviction stems from about $25,000 in unpaid rent.
"We have our judgment, they’ve taken it up on appeal, and that’s where it stands," Boron said.
David Matthews discusses Nouveau's legal issues:
It's the latest blow for Nouveau Tavern, a New Orleans-inspired bar that has drawn ire from its neighbors and the local alderman seemingly since it opened in October 2013. The bar was abruptly shut down by Chicago Police last year over a liquor license issue, and has been the source of many complaints at neighborhood policing meetings. Tensions boiled over last August when a racist message was spray-painted onto the black-owned business.
The club's owner, Marsette Mangum, did not respond to requests for comment, but Nouveau's promotional director, Teddy Gilmore, reiterated his longtime stance that the bar's scrutiny is racially motivated.
"We're black, they're white, and they don't want us to be here," Gilmore said. The club's River North-based landlord, Barry Weinstein, and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) did not return messages seeking comment.
Gilmore said the club hauls in $30,000 to $40,000 per night, and offered to pay the unpaid rent.
"We would've paid it; [Weinstein] won't accept it," he said.
When asked if Weinstein was indeed offered the rent, Boron said he would "not get into specifics" of the dispute. When asked if his client and Nouveau have considered a settlement, Boron simply said "we're in litigation right now."
Gilmore has argued that the scene at Nouveau is no more troublesome than any other River North club, but that his bar is unfairly targeted by police and Reilly, the latter who encourages residents to show up at court hearings for Nouveau patrons.
One example: Court records show Gilmore was charged with a count of misdemeanor reckless conduct earlier this month at the bar. Gilmore, whose case is headed to a jury trial, said police arrived at the bar on his birthday, and Reilly-led "court advocates" appeared at his court date Friday.
"I was celebrating my birthday; I wasn't even working," Gilmore said. "They intentionally came on my birthday; they knew it."
Boron said no appellate court dates are on the horizon. Instead, the court will issue a ruling after receiving legal briefs from both sides of the eviction case.
Gilmore said he wasn't sure why the bar would choose to continue business in such a seemingly hostile environment. But he stressed that, more important, Nouveau is being unfairly pressured to leave despite its lack of truly violent crime that occurs at other River North and North Side bars.
"We’re in no different position than any other spots. We’re being treated differently," Gilmore said. "People say we live in a post-racial society. The past 18 months have showed me that does not exist."
"All we have to do is turn on the news," he said.
Contributing: Erica Demarest
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