No one mentioned an eviction lawsuit last month when Japonais by Morimoto announced its pending closure. But the shutter is part of an agreement made in August between the restaurant and building management to settle a lawsuit asking for $478,590, starting with back rent from September 2014, court documents show. Investors backing the Japanese hotspot have also been searching for a new location since spring.
The settlement stipulated that Japonais had to vacate the nearly 20,000-square-foot space on or before Friday, Oct. 16, and the restaurant is set to close on Sunday, ending a 12-year run at 600 W. Chicago Avenue. CW 600 West Chicago LLC, the plaintiff, filed the eviction suit in March in Cook County Circuit Court.
The restaurant brought on famed chef Masaharu Morimoto in August 2013 and remodeled the space, but still struggled to pay rent, according to the lawsuit. The lease stipulated the annual rent was to increase by $100,000 starting in August. The restaurant, known as "Geisha LLC" in documents, countered in court and claimed the building was overcharging them for rent.
It's unclear how much rent Japonais paid CW 600 in the end. After a court order, Japonais paid CW 600 $50,000 in rent from April through August, the settlement document confirmed. That represented a 33.9-percent cut from the normal $76,671 monthly rent stipulated in the lease.
The lawsuit also alleged that Japonais took their time in coming to a settlement to take advantage of the discounted rent while searching for a new location. Via an affidavit, in May, a "passive investor" in the restaurant, Sol Barket, allegedly told CW 600's Senior VP of Equity Commonwealth, Dov Pinchot, that the Chicago Avenue space was "too large and too expensive for Japonais' operations." Building management also claimed the restaurant barred them from showing the space to prospective tenants.
Both attorneys involved in the case, Gerald Lurie (representing CW 600) and Doug Wexler (representing Japonais), declined comment. There's an Oct. 16 court date scheduled that will likely close the case.
Check out the settlement document below.