Rockford bar fights to stay open after lease is terminated

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Downtown Rockford bar owner was served a cease and desist order last week, which was basically the city saying that they were terminating their lease.

John Slater, Owner of True Colors, 211 Elm St, said that he felt blindsided when he was told to get out Friday.

“All these people were flooding into this bar, and the city had decided that the day before that to issue that cease and desist,” Slater said. “Crazy.”

Slater was shocked to learn the city terminated the lease for their space, saying that they had not paid their rent.

“We agreed in that meeting to pay $10,000 toward that balance, the remaining balance, and we have that in writing from the city attorney that was supposed to be split up in 10 payments on the new lease,” Slater said.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said that it was not only the rent. They do not have a state liquor license, and claimed that they are also behind on city taxes.

“We’re talking about a business that didn’t pay rent for the first 8-9 months that they were in business renting from us,” McNamara said. “There’s a lot of issues piling up here, and so again, our lease that we had with them ended October 31, and we just simply executed a portion of that lease that allows us to provide them a 30-day notice to terminate.”

Slater said that the city awarded him $6,000 for the “Hospitality Grant” and was counting on that to pay the rent, but he never got it. He also said that he made several efforts to renew the state liquor license.

McNamara, however, said that it is too late.

“At this point, we’re no longer continuing our relationship with them at that location,” McNamara said. “We have provided them with a 30-day notice that is consistent with the agreement they have with us, and we look forward to seeking proposals for new establishments.”

Slater vowed to stay open.

“We’re going to fight it,” Slater said. “There’s no reason for us to leave. The business is successful, and they are going to have to kick us out of this bar, because we’re not leaving until that happens.”

According to the letter left by the city, True Colors has 30 days to vacate the property, and the city has the right to use forcible entry if they do not.

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