The future of an award-winning Brookfield restaurant could be decided by a Cook County judge next week. On Jan. 14 at the Maybrook courthouse, a judge is scheduled to rule whether Xni-Pec de Yucatan must vacate its space at 3755 Grand Blvd.
Last month, one of the owners of the building, Martin Serwinski, filed a lawsuit seeking to evict the restaurant from the space for failing to pay rent for nine months, between March and November of 2012.
The suit named the restaurant’s owner, Rosalina Cardenas, stating that she owed $23,864 in rent. The suit also asks Cardenas to pay court costs.
Serwinski said he’s still hopeful that the eviction can be avoided, but said he simply can’t afford to carry the restaurant, which is in the fourth year of a five-year contract at the space.
“I’m hoping, but business is business, and I’m out an extreme amount of money, and it’s hurting me now,” said Serwinski. “I’ve got my own business to run.”
Serwinski, in addition to being a co-owner of the building, operates The Sanctuary of Brookfield, a bar and restaurant located at 3747 Grand Blvd., in the same building.
Last year, the space cost Cardenas $2,889 per month or $34,671 per year, according to the lawsuit. The rent increases to $2,961 per month or $35,538 per year in 2013. There’s another 2.5-percent increase in the rent in the final year of the deal in 2014.
The suit contends that Cardenas owes all of the rent between April and November 2012 and part of March. Serwinski filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court on Dec. 13, 2012 after giving the restaurant a 30-day notice in November.
Javier Contreras, who manages the restaurant for his mother, Rosalina, told the Landmark last week that they’re hoping to avoid being evicted and said the family has begun trying to make good on what is owed.
“We’re just asking the judge to give us some lenience to give us time to get the money paid back,” said Contreras.
He added that his mother has paid Serwinski about $9,000 of the amount that’s due. He blamed the slowness in payment on not knowing exactly how much was owed prior to the lawsuit being filed.
“We never knew how much to pay him,” said Contreras. “We want to get back on track, so we can budget it in.”
Xni-Pec de Yucatan was closed for about a month in the fall of 2012 when the village of Brookfield cited the business for improperly reconnecting electricity to the space after ComEd had shut it off in July. Garbage hadn’t been collected in two weeks either, according to the village’s property maintenance file for the restaurant.
Apparently, shortly after that happened, someone reconnected the wires on the roof of the building with a pair of metal clamps wrapped in electrical tape. The village shut down the restaurant following an inspection on Oct. 1. The issue was resolved in November after an appearance in front of the village code adjudicator.
Xni-Pec opened in January 2010, moving to Grand Boulevard from its previous location in Cicero, where it received high marks on the WTTW-TV restaurant review show Check, Please! for its distinctive Yucatecan cuisine.
In both 2011 and 2012, the restaurant was named to the Michelin Guide’s “Bib Gourmand” list, which honors restaurants considered a good value. Just 56 restaurants in Chicago and the suburbs received such a designation in 2012.
While the restaurant specializes in Yucatecan cuisine, Xni-Pec just last week unveiled an expanded menu, which includes food that’s a bit more mainstream, like fajitas, flautas and enchiladas.
“It’s still Yucatecan,” said Contreras, “but we wanted to cater to a bigger customer base. If you see something familiar, you’re more apt to try it.”