The year’s saddest closure is arguably getting sadder, even as the wife of its owner opens a new concept. The Parthenon finds itself the subject of another lawsuit, as the Greektown landmark’s former chef alleges the restaurant’s owners illegally transferred more than $870,000 to fund other businesses. The lawsuit comes after Lorraine Rieff-Liakouras, wife of Parthenon owner Chris Liakouras, quietly opened a neighboring sports bar, the Ambassador Public House, late last month.
Rieff-Liakouras owns the Chicago Parthenon Hostel and the building which includes the new Ambassador Public House. The bar features international sports on TV and serves imported beer, craft beer, hard cider, and liquor. Food menus, posted to Yelp although the bar lacks an official web site, includes burgers, sandwiches, other bar food, brunch all day, Irish-American staples, and yes, Parthenon’s famed saganaki. The space holds a main front bar and a separate party room. She’s stressed in previous interviews that her businesses are separate from her husband’s.
Former chef Sotirios Stasinos owns a 25-percent stake in the Parthenon’s holding company, according to the Sun-Times, and he filed the lawsuit last week. He claims Chris Liakouras—who owns a 50-percent stake—and daughter Joanna Liakouras—who owns the remaining 25 percent—took the money and didn’t notify Stasinos. He claims they used the funds for ventures including Aviva, the short-lived restaurant in the Ambassador space that opened and closed this past summer. Aviva’s consulting chef, Alan Lake, had filed a lawsuit that claimed he wasn’t paid his $13,250 for his services. The case is heading to arbitration next month.
Meanwhile, Stasinos wants out. The lawsuit asks Judge Peter Flynn to order the Liakourases to buy Stasinos’ stake in the Parthenon. He also wants more than $50,000, according to the Sun-Times. The next scheduled court date is April 7.
The 48-year-old Parthenon—known for popularizing flaming cheese (saganaki), the Greek-American staple—has been mired in more than $500,000 in lawsuits and debt. It closed in September without notice. The new lawsuit details further alleged financial difficulties including problems repaying loans. It’s another chapter in the shutter of a Chicago classic, as its owner's wife opens a new sports bar and eatery mere doors away.
Ambassador Public House, 310 S. Halsted St., (312) 888-9961, open 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.