CINCINNATI - Mahogany’s at the Banks has been threatened with eviction by managers of the Banks riverfront development project, who say the downtown restaurant is more than $50,000 behind on its rent and other lease fees.
Cincinnati council members were notified by letter Thursday.
“Mahogany’s has ten (10) days from the date of this letter to come current on its account,” said a Feb. 20 letter from Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate to Liz Rogers, owner of the E. Freedom Way restaurant.
The letter details a history of missed payments and threatens legal proceedings and “recovery of the premises” as potential next steps.
“This is your last change to come current with your rent and other charges,” the letter concludes. “You must pay the entire amount owed.”
The letter was attached to a memo to the mayor and council by Scott Stiles, interim city manager.
Anderson manages the Banks retail space for NIC Riverbanks, which owns apartment and retail buildings in the block west of Great American Ball Park.
The notice of default comes three weeks after WCPO first reported that Mahogany’s was behind on its $300,000 loan with the city of Cincinnati. The loan was part of a controversial financing package that enabled the soul food restaurant to open at the Banks in 2012. The package also included a $684,000 grant to pay for the restaurants interior.
The package was controversial because Rogers owed back taxes from a restaurant in Hamilton.
The state of Ohio secured judgment liens in December against the restaurant. The judgments indicated the restaurant was more than $22,000 behind on sales tax payments and workers compensation premiums.
Rogers did not return WCPO’s calls Thursday.
In early February, she told WLW-AM 700 talk show host Bill Cunningham that the liens and loan issues weren’t news.
“I’m the one responsible for it ultimately, but until I default on something there is no story. There’s nothing to discuss,” she said.
Cincinnati City Council member Yvette Simpson issued this statement in support of Mahogany's:
"As with any small business that employs Cincinnatians and provides vibrancy in our city, we are rooting for Mahogany’s success and are committed to doing all we can to help. This past winter has been a difficult one for all retail establishments and restaurants, and new small businesses are especially vulnerable to difficult seasons like the one we’re in. I continue to support this business as an important addition to the range of offerings at the Banks, and despite a difficult start, I hope and expect that things will turn around."
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