Karyn Calabrese —the vegan queen and proprietor of both Karyn's Raw and the shuttered Karyn's On Green— and her husband didn't mention their legal troubles earlier this week when launching a GoFundMe campaign for money to keep her flagship restaurant open. But court records show the couple were involved in four lawsuits this year, including a pending one filed in November asking for more than $112,000 in back rent and damages. Another cites violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The latest lawsuit, filed on Nov. 25 in Cook County circuit court, requests $112,097.84 from back rent and damages related to Karyn's On Green, Calabrese's West Loop spot that closed in March. The suit alleges Calabrese and her husband, Jerrold "Jerry" Scherer, failed to keep up with the base rent payments that totaled $9,566.82 per month. The missed payments came between September 2014 through August 2015. There's only been one court date so far in that case, and the next scheduled date is Jan. 21. The same plaintiffs, United Investors, filed a lawsuit against Calabrese and Scherer in February for back rent. A judge awarded the plaintiffs $90,914.65 in June.
Karyn's on Green closed earlier this year, but that didn't stop a customer Franklin Ollie Jr. from filing a suit alleging Calabrese and Co. failed to adhere to ADA accessibility regulations. Ollie, who uses a wheelchair due to psoriatic arthritis, according to that suit filed in July, noticed the restaurant didn't have ramps so Ollie could enjoy proper access, and that the 6-inch stairs also were obstacles. That suit asked for $30,001 in damages and was dismissed for want of prosecution in October.
This summer, Calabrese and Scherer faced a lawsuit filed by the Park Astor Condominium Association for $15,933.96 over failure to pay assessment, late fees and other charges for two units in the building. A judge ruled in favor of the association in September, according to court records.
There's also the matter of an anonymous Facebook post circulating that challenges Calabrese's character and business practices as a vegan. Scherer didn't return a phone call seeking comment, and Calabrese failed to return a Facebook message via the contact info listed on the GoFundMe page. In six days, 45 people have donated a little more than $6,000 to Calabrese and Scherer out of their $300,000 goal. Take a look at the latest lawsuit below.