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Double Door Workers Distraught Over Club's Eviction: 'It's Been Our Home'

By Alisa Hauser | February 15, 2017 2:03pm | Updated on February 15, 2017 3:57pm
 Double Door workers and American Cosmonaut, the last band to play at the venue and whose gear is still trapped inside.
Double Door workers and American Cosmonaut, the last band to play at the venue and whose gear is still trapped inside.
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WICKER PARK — Longtime workers at the Double Door say they are worried about the future of the club after it was ousted from the building it called home for more than two decades, and they say they've been unable to get any of their belongings out of the building since the eviction.

"It's a waiting game; we don't know what to do. Every day, it's not fair to wonder if I'm having a job that day," says Lorri Francis, manager of Double Door for 21 years.

Nate Arling, Double Door's booking manager, also expressed frustration. 

"We are a full-time business, not a club house that throws shows. I have multiple things, business and personal belongings in there. It's been our home for the past 20-plus years. Most of us spend more time at Double Door than we do at home," Arling said.

Francis, whose job duties include billing and payroll, said she came to work on Feb. 6 like any other Monday and when she opened the door "it was full of sheriffs."

"I said, 'Can I please come in?' They said, 'Sorry ma'am.' I said ... 'Can I please get my computer?'" Francis recalled.

Francis says that two attempts she made to get into the club at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. were canceled by building owner Brian Strauss, who told her that he is dealing with a family matter and promised he would contact her to reschedule.

Francis said club owner Sean Mulroney is trying to make arrangements to get into the building to help the workers.

On Wednesday, Mulroney and club partner Joe Shanahan declined to comment about the situation.

James McKay, a lawyer for Brian Strauss and Strauss' father, said the Strauss family has been "bending over backwards" for Double Door.

"At a meeting recently we suggested today [Wednesday] and that was rejected by them because Sean [Mulroney] said they need several days to get all of their stuff. I offered this Saturday and Sunday — both days — and am waiting to hear back from their lawyer. We are trying to accommodate them and want them to get their property as soon as possible," McKay said.

Last week, Mulroney and Shanahan vowed 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," Mulroney assured fans the day after "No Trespassing" signs were placed on the venue's doors and a locksmith changed the locks.

On Tuesday night, Arling said that a Lordi concert, previously set to play at the Double Door on Tuesday night, was moved to Reggie's, a music club at 2105 S. State Street.

"We are in the process of working and relocating shows, and doing the best we can with lack of information from the building owner on getting back in the building," Arling said.

Referring to the prolonged legal battle between Double Door and its landlord which started in November of 2015, Arling said, "The judge, the court, everyone was saying work this out and be fair. I still have faith that good will prevail."

Arling added, "We are keeping a positive outlook on things as much as we can and we are not losing sight of all the amazing things Double Door has done and will continue to do."

Keith Burzinski, a freelance lighting technician, said that he has several thousands of dollars worth of equipment locked in the club. 

"I'm very much in a holding pattern like the rest of the employees," Burzinksi said.

Burzinski, who has been providing lighting to the club for nine years on a freelance basis, said he was at Double Door the weekend before the Monday eviction.

"I love doing what I do there. It's a blast and unfortunately the employees and contractors like me are being dragged through the drama of business and building ownership. We are the ones suffering, and anyone who's holding a ticket for a show, or the musicians who play there, and the neighborhood people who just like the bar and come in for a drink," Burzinski said.

Burzinksi said he has had to decline doing lighting gigs at other clubs because he does not know when he will have his gear back.

On Facebook, American Cosmonaut, a band that played at Double Door on Feb. 3, said band members had left gear at the club and they'd planned to come back and get it the day of the eviction.

"We have already had to skip a practice and pass on a show. We just want to get our stuff!" the band said.

Danielle Harms, the bar's manager and an employee since 2002, said in an email that although she left stuff inside, she is more worried about what will happen to the employees of the Double Door.

"Sure, I'd love to be able to retrieve my backpack, iPad and other personal items from the space. But those are just things, and they can be replaced," Harms said. "My real concern is for my Double Door family. I hate to see the lives of people I love thrown into limbo."