The man who owns the franchise for the downtown Jersey Mike’s says he has a contract to stay in the building until 2015, but the city’s legal department told him he has to leave when the Hall closes its doors December 31.
The sandwich shop started giving letters to each customer Wednesday to make it official. After more than 12 years inside the Hall, Jersey Mike’s is closing December 21.
“I’ve got a lot of money invested in here and I've counted on that income until 2015,” said franchise owner Bob Guros. “I’m in my mid-70s and it's too late to go out looking for something else at this point.”
Guros said he made the decision to close after interim city attorney Aladean DeRose sent him a letter in August, saying the contract he signed to stay in the building until 2015 will not be good once the Hall closes its doors in less than three weeks.
“I always assumed that the city would be good enough to allow us to stay here [until our contract is up]. Or in the alternative, if the city had a different need for this building and wanted to compensate us to move our restaurant somewhere else, I would have been more than happy to do that,” Guros told WSBT.
But he said the city never made that offer and the city isn’t budging on legal talks, so he made the decision to close.
“I don’t want to walk in here on January the first with my crew and find that the doors are all locked and there’s no one here to open them up, and my restaurant’s full of food, a lot of which has a short shelf life,” he added.
But Guros is leaving his equipment in the building because he feels he’s right. And he and his attorney are prepared to go to court to fight for it.
“I guess someone else will have to make a decision down the line as to whether I'm right or the city's right in this,” he said.
Guros is also worried about his shop sitting empty too long, saying Jersey Mike’s has given him the impression it might take away his franchise – meaning the money he counts on to make his living would also go away. Whatever happens downtown will not impact Guros' second Jersey Mike's location on North Main St. in Mishawaka.
However, DeRose said the restaurant has been a good tenant for downtown.
Community and Economic Development Director Scott Ford said the city is working very hard to keep a valued tenant downtown.
The city’s Redevelopment Commission is expected to vote on a proposal to bring an outside company to manage the empty College Football Hall of Fame building January 1 when the city takes possession of it.
That 6-month contract for the property management would be $5,300. The hope, Ford Said, is to have a tenant in the building by next July, if not sooner.