An award-winning Mexican restaurant will be leaving Brookfield at the end of the February, after a judge sided with the business’ landlord and ordered them evicted.
On Feb. 4, Judge Kristyna C. Ryan signed an order for possession on behalf of property owner Martin Serwinski against Xni-Pec de Yucatan, giving the restaurant until Feb. 28 to vacate the space at 3755 Grand Blvd.
“It was a great experience in Brookfield and we loved the place,” said Javier Contreras, who manages the restaurant. “It was a great location, and we wish we could stay, but it’s not feasible anymore.”
Xni-Pec was unique in the world of Chicago Mexican restaurants, because it specialized in the cuisine of the Yucatan peninsula. The business began in Cicero and quickly attracted the attention of local foodies.
In 2007, the eatery got high marks on the restaurant review show Check, Please! on WTTW-TV. And in 2010, Xni-Pec made the move to Brookfield, taking over the cozy corner space at Grand Boulevard and Prairie Avenue.
But local diners never warmed up to the restaurant, according to Contreras. The restaurant did see an uptick in local traffic after Xni-Pec won its second consecutive Michelin Bib Gourmand award last fall, but it came too late to save the business.
“Most of our market was from outside the city,” Contreras said. “In the past six to eight months people started showing up more, but it didn’t pick up enough.”
But the restaurant was in trouble long before last fall. According to an eviction lawsuit filed by Serwinski in November 2012, the owner of Xni-Pec, Rosalina Cardenas, had failed to pay rent since March. By November, the restaurant had fallen behind in rent payments by almost $24,000.
The situation wasn’t helped when, in the fall of 2012, Xni-Pec was closed for about a month after the village shut it down for improperly reconnecting electricity after power had been turned off by ComEd.
In January, Contreras told the Landmark that he hoped there might be a way to save the restaurant, but Serwinski said the business could never pay what it owed.
Contreras said his family hopes to resurrect the restaurant within six to eight months at a location on the North Side of Chicago, either near Lincoln Park or Wicker Park. He said the business has been courting a new chef-partner.
“We’re really hopeful for that,” Contreras said.
Meanwhile, Serwinski said he has two prospects, possibly three, for the space. All are restaurant businesses, he said, which would likely want to incorporate full bar service.