Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has no relationship and no plans to work with the controversial owner of an Avondale restaurant and lounge, a corporate spokesperson told Grub Street Chicago. In response to our query about a report by news startup DNAInfo on Tuesday which was picked up yesterday by Eater, in which the owner of the shuttered Eclipse Restaurant and Lounge at 2554 W. Diversey claimed that he would reopen next month in partnership with the widely-admired restaurant company, Lettuce’s statement was firm and more than a little pointed: "It is NOT true, there is NO partnership, and there was NO fact checking done by the reporter."
Eclipse Restaurant & Lounge came into the news Monday when owner Rais Usmani, who also owns a car dealership and a cell phone business, abruptly fired his entire staff via a note taped to the locked doors of the restaurant. He claimed "the whole management staff I had working for [me], were not doing their jobs." This came after months of contention with neighbors who claimed that the restaurant was more of a nightclub favored by gang members who caused public disturbances late at night, and who objected to a garish L.E.D. sign at the location opposite residences.
The restaurant had twice faced the city’s deleterious impact/public nuisance process, and Usmani’s reaction as reported by DNAinfo was defiant: "If I knew this neighborhood was going to give me that hard of a time I would have never invested in it… Either they become supportive, or I don’t know what’s going to happen." He claimed that he planned to remodel the restaurant and reopen with the partnership of the celebrated restaurant concept developer, who had not previously shown an interest in gang-favored nightclubs in obscure northside locations.
After being contacted by Lettuce last night, DNAInfo has now posted a retraction.