Jerseys Downtown faces eviction, thousands in unpaid rent

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Was it safety concerns? Health concerns? Or something else that shutdown a well-known Cedar Rapids restaurant?

A sign for Jerseys Downtown in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

Court documents are shedding some new light on what was going on at Jerseys Downtown before it abruptly closed in February.

Back then, an owner told TV9 he was worried about the safety of his employees, citing tension between those at neighboring Harold’s Chicken— a Jerseys’ subletter.

Harold’s owner fired back saying Jerseys closed because of repeated health code violations. He said Jerseys was bringing prepared food from the shared kitchen through a basement to serve customers.

A health inspector told TV9 if the issue was fixed-- Jerseys wouldn’t have had a significant health violation requiring them to close.

So, which was it?

Jerseys’ downtown location faces eviction at 9:00 a.m., March 30th. Court documents for the order suggest finances could have played a role in the shuttering.

In them, the landlord, Sherman Associates, claims Jerseys hasn't been paying its bills. The restaurant apparently owes nearly $70,000 in unpaid rent, late fees and interest. On top of that-- attorneys for the landlord cite three other reasons they've terminated the Jerseys Downtown lease.

-Following the business's closure, it failed to stay open during agreed hours.
-The restaurant didn't get written permission from the landlord to sublet to Harold's Chicken.
-Jerseys didn't maintain a crime-free environment.

The documents say "law enforcement has repeatedly been called due to criminal activity on the property" to the point the city has deemed it to be a nuisance.

City officials told TV9 last month they cited both Jerseys and Harold's as public nuisance properties. Police said employees at both called in so many complaints against each other it cost the city about 150 man hours to investigate.

Landlords allege breaking the lease-- which lasted until 2022-- means they can recover the value of the lost rent. Jerseys could owe more than $450,000, if a court agrees.

Legal experts tell TV9 it's unlikely Jerseys will actually pay that amount of money. A judge or negotiation will probably cut things down.

Requests to both parties for comment weren’t immediately returned.

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