A Loop restaurant formerly owned by the host of WTTW’s “Check, Please!” allegedly owes more than $700,000 in back rent and its landlord wants it evicted from its high-profile location on Michigan Avenue across the street from the Art Institute.
Seven Lions, which opened in 2015 at 122 S. Michigan Ave., was owned in part by Alpana Singh, the host of the long-running food show, until October 2017. It’s the second restaurant once-affiliated with Singh to find itself in financial and legal trouble in the last year.
The owner of the building has filed three lawsuits against Seven Lions in an effort to evict the restaurant and recoup the $763,615 that the restaurant allegedly owes. The most recent suit was filed last week.
Maj Restaurant LLC, the company that now owns Seven Lions, could not be reached for comment.
A copy of the lease included in court files says Seven Lions — which is in its fifth year of an 11-year lease — agreed to pay more than $570,000 per year in rent for the restaurant and basement spaces. The rent delinquency allegedly started in September 2017 — a month before Singh sold her stake.
Singh is not named in the suit. She did not respond to a request for comment.
“Tenant breached the lease by failing and refusing to pay the rent to landlord for the main space for September, October, November and December 2017 and January, February, March and April 2018,” the landlord claimed in a lawsuit filed this past May.
The landlord alleges that Seven Lions’ ownership was given two separate letters demanding rent, one in January and another a month later.
After those letters were sent, the building ownership seized Seven Lions’ security deposit — $135,737 — which has also yet to be repaid, the suit alleges. A third letter demanding back rent was sent in April.
“Landlord has attempted to mitigate its damages, but such attempts have been impeded or limited by tenant,” according to the suit, which is expected to go to trial in February of next year.
Attorneys for Seven Lions have asked to have one of the three lawsuits dismissed because “it is simply unfair to force the defendant to defend itself on three fronts over the same basic alleged fact-pattern.”
Earlier this month, the building owner was allowed to seize property from the restaurant, which was still in operation as of Wednesday afternoon. So far, the landlord has taken nearly 150 chairs and barstools, 35 tables, 95 bottles of wine and liquor, as well as a host of kitchen equipment.
The landlord has also inventoried for potential seizure an array of Seven Lions’ property, including seating booths, tables, couches, 100 tables’ worth of silverware, liquor, four TVs, seven chandeliers, 225 wine glasses, stainless steel tables and coolers and 50 frying pans.
Singh hosted “Check, Please” from 2003 to 2012 when she left to focus on running restaurants. She returned to the show in episodes airing starting late last month.
In July, another restaurant formerly owned by Singh, the Boarding House in River North, abruptly closed up shop after it was sued by its landlord for failing to pay $117,000 in rent, according to Eater.