Ear Hustle

Hot Dog Stand Owes Village of Oak Park, IL $57k In Back Rent Made To Vacate By Judge’s Orders

In this terrible economy, so many businesses are being forced out of their spaces for various reasons.  A hot dog stand in Oak Park, IL named Tasty Dog was ordered by a judge to vacate its space due to being behind on the rent to the tune of $57,000.  Interestingly enough the building the establishment was “housed” in actually belongs to the Village of Oak Park.  With the cost of everything going up, the small business owner doesn’t have a chance.

Read more as reported by the Chicago Tribune:


A Cook County judge has ordered Oak Park fast-food restaurant Tasty Dog to leave its village-owned storefront by Sept. 14.

As owners of the building at 708 Lake St., the village serves as Tasty Dog’s landlord. The village claims the hot dog stand hasn’t paid its rent in seven months, and it took the business to court to evict them from the building.

The case reached trial Monday in front of Judge Kevin T. Lee in the Cook County Courthouse in Maywood.

Tasty Dog’s attorneys attempted to have the village’s eviction — a notice of termination of tenancy — dismissed, claiming village officials attempted to modify the original notice days after it was tendered.

Delivered to Tasty Dog owner Michael Barton on May 15, the notice said Tasty Dog owed $39,930 in past-due rent and $595.12 in penalties.

According to evidence entered by Barton’s attorney, Justin Shlensky, Barton and his wife exchanged emails with Village Manager Cara Pavlicek on May 21, one day after Barton briefly met with Pavlicek at Village Hall.

In the emails, Pavlicek wrote that Tasty Dog also owed leasable taxes and needed to show proof of insurance, which were not included in the original notice of termination, Shlensky said.

“They modified (the notice) at a later date in that email,” Shlensky said. “For the first time, they placed these additional provisions in this email. He needed these other two conditions to satisfy that notice.”

Shlensky claimed Barton “took steps in good faith” to pay the rent, but stopped after Pavlicek’s email. Barton said he sought legal counsel after meeting with Pavlicek.

Barton told the judge he moved $18,000 from another business to Tasty Dog in an effort to pay the rent.

“Me and my wife wrote an email saying we’d pay the rent in full,” Barton said. “I was going to transfer money from my other business. I moved money from one account to another account. I paid $500,000 for (Tasty Dog). I’m not going to let $40,000 get in my way.”

Attorney Jonathan M. Mikrut, who represented the village, argued the village’s notice to Tasty Dog was perfectly legal, adding the defense attempted to “confuse the court” by discussing the emails.

“There was no effort to pay,” Mikrut said. “Now he’s claiming he had the money. He can’t hide behind a sentence in an email. It’s just an excuse not to pay the money.”

Oak Park Chief Financial Officer Craig Lesner testified at trial Aug. 24 that Tasty Dog paid its $7,986 rent for January 2015, but hadn’t paid since.

Since the village first moved to kick out Tasty Dog in May, Lesner says Tasty Dog’s unpaid rent has risen to $57,466.38 through Aug. 21.

After hearing testimony, Lee sided with the village and ordered that Tasty Dog vacate the building in three weeks.

“There was never any money tendered,” Lee said. “I don’t buy your argument. The email was just a reminder of what is in the lease that a tenant is required to do. My ruling is the notice is not defective.”

Shlensky had asked for one month to vacate the building, adding that 12 employees at Tasty Dog will be losing their jobs.

Outside the courtroom, Barton declined to comment on the case or the judge’s ruling.

Pavlicek declined to comment directly on the litigation.

“It is sensitive, but it is tax dollars,” Pavlicek said.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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