Landlord Sues Louis' Family Restaurant Owner For Not Paying Rent

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JOLIET, IL —Barely two months into his retirement, Louis Polimenakos, the long-time owner of Louis’ Family Restaurant, is now being sued by the New Jersey-based landlord who owns the Jefferson Plaza Shopping Center on Joliet’s west side.

Polimenakos is being sued by TAEW LLC Series 1, an Illinois limited liability company. Hoffman Estates attorney David Stieper of Stieper Law Offices on West Higgins Road has asked a Will County judge for an award of $51,393.33, plus attorney fees and court costs. TAEW owns 1001-1103 West Jefferson St. in Joliet, known as the Jefferson Plaza, and the landlord has been the legal titleholder of the property since Sept. 6, 2013.

The lawsuit alleges that Polimenakos had a base rent of $5,000 per month for 2021. In addition, there was an obligation to pay the tenant’s share of real estate taxes, 28.5 percent, the lawsuit indicated. “Tenant failed to make all the monthly rent base rent and additional rent payments from June 1, 2021, through Nov. 31, 2021, totaling $51,593.33,” the lawsuit states.

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The Will County lawsuit contends that Louis Polimenakos signed a 12-year lease starting Sept. 1, 2012 and ending Aug. 31, 2024 with a six-year option to renew at the end of the term.

The lawsuit states that property manager Bryan Hinkle of Property Services sent certified mail to Louis Polimenakos on Nov. 19, 2021, “which subsequently (the) landlord discovered had been abandoned by tenant … tenant breached the express terms of the lease by failing to pay monthly rent when due which now … through Jan. 31, 2022, totals $51,593.35.”

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During the height of the pandemic, Louis’ Family Restaurant became a drive-thru only restaurant, sparking great tension with their landlord, Michael and Nick Polimenakos said. File/John Ferak/Patch

Louis Polimenakos operated his Louis’ Family Restaurant from December 1992 until his retirement on Nov. 28, 2021. His two sons, Michael and Nick, opened their own restaurant in Joliet, in December, called Louie’s Waffle House. Their father is not involved in any of the day-to-day operations of their new restaurant, which is named after him.

On Tuesday afternoon, Nick and Michael Polimenakos said they could not believe their father is being sued after being the lifeblood of the Jefferson Plaza for three decades.

Image via John Ferak/Patch

Michael Polimenakos said his father is in his 70s and trying to enjoy his retirement years.

“He’s at the age everybody retires,” Michael said. “My father is 74 years old. My dad was a faithful client for 30 years, and now they’re suing an old man. We could have bought 10 restaurant buildings. They made plenty of money off my father.

“For 29 years, we were their best tenant, and we didn’t cause any problems. My father was the anchor of the plaza, so when it’s time for my dad to retire, it’s time for him to be done. It can’t go any longer.”

During COVID, when all Illinois indoor restaurants were shut down by the governor, Michael and Nick turned their father’s indoor dining restaurant into a drive-thru only restaurant, advertising Louis’ Family Restaurant as Joliet’s fastest drive-thru.

Turns out, the New Jersey-based landlord did not support them, complaining they were blocking many of the parking spaces in his business plaza, the brothers said.

“They even tried to shut down the drive-thru,” Nick told Patch during Tuesday’s interview.”

Louis Polimenakos operated Louis’ Family Restaurant at 1001 W. Jefferson St. in Joliet for 29 years. Now, the landlord is suing him. John Ferak/Patch

Nick and Michael that after the 2008 economic recession, practically every business in the Jefferson Plaza closed except for their father’s restaurant. He kept the plaza going, and now he’s being sued for back rent and breaking his lease, according to the new lawsuit.

The parking lot was in poor shape and needed to be re-striped, the brothers said. The building’s roof had major leaks, and the landlord refused to fix them, Nick and Michael told Patch.

The plaza was built in 1956.

Nick also said the landlord made it clear “we were not to make any building improvements. They destroyed a very good plaza and instead, we didn’t want to be stuck in that plaza for another 10 years.”

“They ran everybody out,” Nick said.

These days, the Jefferson Plaza looks like a ghost town without Louis’ Family Restaurant around. The large parking lot sits empty during the daytime. Many of the storefronts in the strip mall remain unoccupied.

It’s been 11 months since a new business sign went up next door to Louis’ Family Restaurant at 1003 West Jefferson St. for the new Jerk Flavors Authentic Jamaican Cuisine.

A year later, the Markham-based Jamaican restaurant still has not opened in Joliet, yet.

With the Louis’ Family Restaurant space now standing empty for the first time since 1992, “they’re just bitter,” Nick said, referring to the New Jersey landlord.

The New Jersey-based landlord is suing Louis Polimenakos alleging he did not pay his rent for the last several months of 2021. He retired Louis’ Family Restaurant on Nov. 28, 2021. File/John Ferak/Patch

Since opening Dec. 7, Michael Polimenakos said that business at the new Louie’s Waffle House has been outstanding. He said their slowest week so far at the old Bob Evans Family Restaurant property near Interstate 80 and Larkin Avenue has still been better than their father’s best week of business at 1001 W. Jefferson St.

“He still comes in from time to time,” Michael said of his father. “He trusts us at this point. My brother and I are excited to continue on this journey together.”

When Joliet Patch stopped by late Tuesday afternoon, the restaurant was packed. Louie’s Waffle House is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Michael said he hopes the landlord reconsiders the lawsuit against his father, given the tens of thousands of dollars his father already paid in rent over the past 29 years. Unlike their father, Michael and Nick Polimenakos bought the old Bob Evans property last summer after it was up for sale. The Bob Evans closed during the COVID indoor restaurant shutdown of 2020.

Their father never owned the property where he ran Louis’ Family Restaurant. That’s left him as the defendant in a new Will County civil lawsuit.

“He paid enough rent to buy that entire plaza,” brother Nick remarked.

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