Sotirios Stasinos took over The Parthenon’s kitchen in 1977. Twenty years later, he bought a 25 percent stake in the noted Greektown restaurant, though he insists he was never responsible for the company’s finances.
In September, just days after the 48-year-old staple of Halsted Street was unceremoniously shuttered, Stasinos received notices from the Illinois Department of Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service that said the Parthenon owed nearly $500,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes, according to a lawsuit filed last week. The restaurant also had incurred an additional $231,000 in penalties.
Stasinos filed a lawsuit Thursday against Christos Liakouras, who founded the restaurant and owned 50 percent of it, and Liakouras’ daughter Joanna, who owned the other 25 percent and oversaw the business’ finances.
The former chef alleges the father and daughter withdrew more than $870,000 from the Parthenon to fund other business ventures that Stasinos didn’t know about, all the while failing to make payments on the Parthenon’s mortgage, its state and federal taxes, and employee payroll.
Joanna Liakouras also was in default for not making timely payments on a $235,000 personal loan, which she secured with The Parthenon’s mortgage, the suit states.
“Through the mis-management [sic] of Mr. Christos Liakouras and Ms. Joanna Liakouras, the Parthenon’s corporate assets were misapplied and/or wasted,” the suit states.
The Parthenon, 314 S. Halsted, served its final meal on Sept. 5 and was closed for good the next day. A sign thanking past customers remained in the doorway as of Saturday afternoon.
The restaurant is credited with inventing the Flaming Saganaki dish, an appetizer of fried cheese that is lighted on fire at a diner’s table as the server shouts “Opa!”
The Parthenon was temporarily closed in April after an inspection by the Chicago Health Department a month earlier cited the restaurant for “12 rodent droppings in the basement storage area” and “approx. 30 live roaches in the kitchen, dishwashing area and in the employee restroom.”
After the restaurant’s permanent closure, Christos Liakouras told the Chicago Sun-Times, “The last couple years, our expenses were greater than what we were making. Nothing could be done.”
Stasinos also alleges in his lawsuit that when he asked to see the restaurant’s books, he still wasn’t able to get the full picture of the company’s finances.
“Plaintiff was able to obtain certain financial records pertaining to the Parthenon,” the suit states. “However, the Defendants were unable and/or unwilling to produce all financial records which were requested by Plaintiff.”
Among the records he was able to obtain was the restaurant’s balance sheet, which, Stasinos alleges, showed “advances” to Joanna Liakouras in the amount of $420,875.99 and an additional $448,152.89 loaned to her father. The amounts, the suit said, include accrued interest.
Stasinos believes the father and daughter were using that money to “to fund other business ventures,” specifically Aviva, a restaurant next door to the Parthenon that closed soon after its opening earlier this year.
Christos and his wife, Lorraine Rieff-Liakouras, have opened The Ambassador Public House, a sports bar at 310 S. Halsted, the suit stated.
A bartender at the Ambassador Public House told a Chicago Sun-Times reporter on Saturday that Christos Liakouras was in the bar’s office but he did not want to discuss the newly filed lawsuit. Phone calls to Liakouras were not returned, and Joanna Liakouras could not be reached for comment.
Stasinos’ four-count lawsuit alleges a breach of fiduciary duty and violations of the Illinois Business Corporation Act of 1983. He is asking a judge to order Christos and Joanna Liakouras to buy Stasinos’ 25 percent stake. He is also seeking the dissolution of the Parthenon’s parent company, Parthenon Restaurant Inc., and seeks more than $50,000 in damages.