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City to eat $154K on failed restaurant deal

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Evanston aldermen Monday will be asked to accept a more than 70 percent loss on the city's $200,000 loan to the failed Chicken & Waffles restaurant on Dempster Street.

The owners of the restaurant at 2424 Dempster St. that closed a year ago have negotiated a deal to sell the building to another restaurateur.

But the $540,000 selling price will only cover in full paying off of the nearly $187,000 outstanding balance on a first mortgage loan held by First Bank & Trust, nearly $195,000 in back property taxes, over $10,000 owed in state taxes and various transaction fees and brokerage commissions.

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It leaves, according to a memo to aldermen from City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, just under $60,000 to pay off the original $200,000 second mortgage held by the city and more than $14,000 in unpaid interest and late fees.

It also wipes out what was described at the time the deal was negotiated in 2012 as a $214,000 investment in the building by the restaurant owner, Signature Foods Solutions, Inc. Principals of that company continue to operate two other restaurants under the Chicago's Home of Chicken & Waffles name, one in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, the other in Oak Park.

The prospective purchaser of the building is Akmal Qazi, who runs two restaurants in Skokie — Kabul House, an Afghan restaurant at 4949 Oakton St., and The Boiler Shrimp & Crawfish a Cajun and Creole spot at 3445 Dempster St.

Kabul House actually got its start at a location on Main Street in Evanston. No word yet on what cuisine Qazi plans to feature at the former Chicken & Waffles site.

Bobkiewicz says taking the loss on the old restaurant deal will clear the way to "return the property to a productive and desirable use."

Before it was a restaurant, the building had housed an auto parts store that went out of business.

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