ALGONQUIN – A sign said the dinner special was chicken and eggplant Parmesan, but the popular Algonquin restaurant Mandile’s hasn’t been serving meals since Jan. 1.
The restaurant’s future depends on a pending lawsuit between two families – the Mandile family, who ran the restaurant for 17 years, and the Basta family, who took over the business in November 2016.
Victor, Salwa and Nabil Basta, along with Basta’s Corp. and Adelaide Real Estate LLC, bought Mandile’s Restaurant & Banquets, 2610 Lake Cook Road, from Carmine and Maria Mandile in November 2016 for $1 million, according to court documents. The sale included the business, inventory and property, which includes a strip center next to the restaurant.
Nabil Basta said the plan is to reopen the restaurant once the lawsuit is finished, but that could take a long time.
A lawsuit was filed in September in McHenry County against the Bastas, which states they failed to pay their mortgage and make monthly payments due beginning Aug. 1. The suit states that the Bastas have defaulted on their mortgage.
About $980,000 is due to the Mandiles, according to court documents.
However, the Basta family filed a countersuit alleging that the Mandiles committed fraud during the sale of the property.
“We are not in default because we want to be but because how can we pay the money if they owe us lots of money?” Nabil Basta said. “It breaks our heart when I hear customers ask why we are closing when things seemed to be going great. Because behind the scenes, the finances aren’t adding up. We have a very uphill battle.”
The Bastas’ attorney, Alexander Michael, argues that the Mandiles told the Bastas that the property included Mia’s Cafe, owned by Leslie Blanken, who was trying to open a business that served liquor and had video gambling terminals, according to court documents.
The lease agreement between Blanken and the Mandiles was conditioned upon Blanken getting a liquor license, which Algonquin trustees voted against.
Leading up to the sale and even after the sale, the Mandile family acted as though Blanken was an existing tenant, and they fully expected Blanken to operate in the space, Nabil Basta said.
The Mandile family became aware Oct. 11, 2016, that the liquor license was denied, Michael said.
The Bastas incurred costs by filing a lawsuit against Blanken under the belief that she had a valid tenancy. Blanken also gutted the unit in anticipation of her remodeling the property, leaving an estimated $22,000 in repairs, documents show.
“Not only have the Bastas lost the rental income and been left a unit that is unusable and unrentable, the Bastas also lost significant business opportunities from having a potentially high-traffic video gaming site at the property bringing foot traffic,” Michael wrote in court documents.
However, the Mandile family argues that attorneys were present for both families during the closure of the sale, and attorneys reviewed tenants and leases at the time, according to court documents.
On Aug. 12, the Mandile family sent a notice to the two other tenants of the strip center – Lakewood Cleaners and Full Circle Salon – to pay direct rent payment to the Mandile family instead of the Bastas.
The Bastas then directed the tenants not to do that and contacted the Algonquin Police Department to report the Mandile family for harassing the tenants.
“To date, no payments of rents have been directed to the [Mandiles] after [the Bastas’] defaults, and [the Bastas] continue to collect rent from the tenants,” according to the suit.
A hearing is scheduled at 9 a.m.
Attempts to speak with the Mandiles’ attorney, Kenneth Nazarian; family member Michael Mandile; and Michael were unsuccessful.