A popular Chicago area restaurant/bar has announced it will close at the end of the year, but the twist to the story is that the eatery in question, Serenata, is citing extensive and continued political harassment for its troubles. Owner Gerry Meza claims that he's been unfairly targeted for (alleged) underage drinking and that the town has shut down his restaurant's bar no less than 15 times and 190 days in the last two years. The conflict came to a fever pitch on October 3, when Meza was jailed and charged with one count of battery after a conflict with a police officer who claims that the restaurant was boozing underage patrons that day.
Curiously enough, the aforementioned police officer who had Meza arrested just happens to be the brother-in-law of Town President Larry Dominick, who Meza has been feuding with for years now.
The quick background: back on 2006, Dominick asked Meza not to advertise in a local paper that had been critical of Dominick's administration. Meza did not comply and claims that this altercation set off a series of events fueled by grudges. In 2007, Meza filed a lawsuit against the town, "accusing the town of engaging in a campaign of harassment and frivolous filings in a malicious attempt to close the restaurant." And it's all downhill from there:
Several times in recent years, Dominick and Meza have engaged in shouting matches during the public comment portion of Town Council meetings ... Earlier this year, Dominick's wife, Elizabeth, yelled, "Sayonara, Serenata," before Meza was escorted out of the room during one meeting. She also called Meza a pig at a recent meeting after he finished speaking during public comment.So yeah, rough situation. Logic and common sense dictate that no one could be dumb enough to get caught serving minors 15 times in several years, especially when he's obviously very much under the microscope from local authorities, which does make us wonder if there's some truth to Meza's claims.
Cicero restaurant to close; owner cites political harassment [Chicago Tribune]