Evanston’s Economic Development Committee recommended Wednesday that the City Council approve a $24,000 forgivable loan to help get the planned new restaurant Zentli open in the former Curt’s Cafe space at 1813 Dempster St.

Restaurateurs Marcos Rivera and Alfonso Nieves told the committee that after signing a lease for the building last September they discovered unexpected water damage to the floor of the restaurant.

The damage, they said, was caused in part by an improperly connected cappuccino machine that leaked water and coffee onto the floor. Now, they say, the flooring will have to be replaced to support the new equipment they plan to add to the space.

They added that the landlord has refused to cover any of the cost of the flooring repairs.

They plan to spend more than $70,000 of their own money on other improvements to the property.

Rivera is the operator of the popular Libertad restaurant in Skokie, and with another partner also plans to open another restaurant, Estacion, in the city-owned former police outpost building at 633 Howard St.

Rivera says he had hoped to have Zentli open by last November, but the weak floors have so far stalled those plans.

Dickelle Fonda, who lives about a block from the Dempster restaurant site, told the committee that she and other neighbors are eager to see the new restaurant open.

Related story

Skokie restaurateur has plans for two Evanston sites (9/25/19)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Bad idea!

    Restaurants are incredibly risky enterprises.  Given Evanston’s poor performance record as a lender (remember Chicken and Waffles?), giving money to yet another restaurant in a city SATURATED with restaurants would be a very bad idea.

    We don’t need it.  We can’t afford it.  Please stop it.

  2. Why the hell is the city

    Why the hell is the city giving “forgiveable” loans (translate as “gifts”) to induce people to open restaurants?  Let the landlord fix his own floor and if he doesn’t the tenants should sue.  This really stinks like some sort of insider deal…

  3. I’m confused — why wouldn’t

    I’m confused — why wouldn’t the owners of Curt’s Cafe be held responsible by the landlord for the damaged flooring?  Asking the city to cover these costs provides no justice to the landlord, and is simply not equitable to the other businesses needing help in Evanston but somehow having to manage it themselves.  

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