WICKER PARK — The owners of Double Door, a popular music club that was kicked out of its longtime home in Wicker Park after a prolonged legal battle, say they are planning to fight the eviction.
"This is merely another chapter for Double Door — it is not the end of its iconic presence as a music venue and arts incubator in Chicago," club co-owner Sean Mulroney assured fans.
The latest from Mulroney and Double Door co-owner Joe Shanahan came in a statement on Tuesday, the day after "No Trespassing" signs were placed on the venue's doors and a locksmith changed the locks.
"Double Door has tendered January and February rent payments on three separate occasions, all of which [landlord Brian] Strauss has refused to accept," Mulroney said. "In the interest of protecting both employees and performers at Double Door, we attempted to craft a deal to guarantee our residency through June of 2017."
Reached on Tuesday, James McKay, Strauss' lawyer, responded to the club's statement.
"Double Door makes no mention of the trial they lost, the multiple court orders entered by the judge against them, and their willful violations of the court orders," McKay said. "They didn't comply with the court order and move out. They didn't pack one box."
MacKay added that while the club owners "have a right to an appeal (like all losing litigants), they were ordered to post an appeal bond, a condition of the appeal and mandated by the Illinois Supreme Court Rules" if they wanted to continue operating at the location.
"This would have allowed them to stay in the building pending their appeal. They were given six weeks to post this bond. They didn't follow this court order, either," McKay said.
Since Double Door's lease expired in October of 2015, the club owners were required to pay use and occupancy fees of $26,000 monthly to landlords Harry and Brian Strauss.
McKay challenged the club's assertions that rent payments were offered for this January and February and "refused" by Strauss.
"That is a ruse. First, it's not 'rent.' There was no lease. Double Door violated the lease in 2015. The use and occupancy payments were ordered by the judge until the end of 2016 when Double Door was supposed to move out," McKay said.
"It's too late in 2017 to pay for space Double Door had no legal right to possess. Further, had [Strauss] accepted these payments, Double Door would argue there was a tacit agreement between the parties that the stay of the order of possession was extended, allowing them to stay," he said.
The landlords "could not accept Double Door's 'rent payments' long after Double Door blew all of the deadlines set by the court," McKay said.
Double Door's statement did not address the appeal bond that was ordered by Cook County Judge Orville Hambright, Jr. on Oct. 31. Though Double Door had worked out a deal to stay through June, McKay said Monday that Mulroney had missed multiple deadlines to post a portion of the court-ordered $468,000 appeal bond.
McKay said that if Double Door had paid the appeal bond ordered by Hambright, the club would have been allowed to stay through June.
Strauss told DNAinfo on Monday, "I tried very hard to work this out amicably, and I never wanted it to come to an eviction. I tried to do everything to allow them to stay. I wish [Mulroney] the best in the future."
In its statement, Double Door owners said they are "reserving their rights to pursue additional claims against Strauss for the eviction proceeding."
McKay fired back: "As far as pursuing additional claims against the Strauss family, bring it! Mr. Strauss did everything right and by the book. It went to court to seek the remedy he was entitled to as a matter of fact and law. Mr. Strauss never lied to the court, never disobeyed a court order, and did everything legally he could do, and nothing more."
Prior to Double Door opening in June 1994, the corner spot at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., just a few feet south of the Damen, Milwaukee and North avenues intersection, was home to a unique hybrid: Double Door Liquors and a country and western bar, Main Street Tavern.
"Country in the front and liquor in the back," was how Tom Brickler — who was hired in the early 1980s to maintain the sign's neon lettering — described the layout.
Main Street Tavern's clientele were part of "a crazy hillbilly crowd," who were not happy about the "corporate" encroachment of the Double Door music club, which adopted the name of the liquor store, Brickler previously recalled.
During its 23 years, The Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins, Rise Against and Sonic Youth are among the many groups that have performed in the club.
Business owners near the famed venue are lamenting the apparent immediate loss of the club, which in light of the eviction has relocated some shows, such as Monday night's "No Man" concert and the free "Tuesday Night Turn-Up" hip-hop show in the club's "Door Number 3" basement.
"It will be a huge loss to the neighborhood. Double Door was the anchor of six corners and was instrumental in developing the nightlife and appeal of this strip of Wicker Park. Many businesses felt the benefits of having a venue that could introduce a thousand new bodies on a regular basis," said Cary Michael, co-owner of Links Taproom, at 1559 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Early Wednesday, music fans expressed an outpouring of support for the venue on poster boards taped to the closed doors, as well as on social media.
"Don't lose your soul Wicker Park!" one fan wrote.
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