Bank's Got Beef with Mr. Beef

Thursday, Feb 12, 2009  |  Updated 8:49 PM CDT
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Bank's Got Beef with Mr. Beef

Joseph Zucchero and his brother Dominic started Mr. Beef, a rustic restaurant better known for flavorful sandwiches than ambience.

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The tough financial times have hit a favorite River North eatery, but its owners say they're not going anywhere.

Midwest Bank has filed a foreclosure lawsuit to collect about $650,000 on Mr. Beef, the longtime Italian beef sandwich restaurant in River North.

The Melrose Park-based bank alleges that Mr. Beef’s co-owners, Joseph Zucchero and Michael Genevese, failed to pay off two loans, totaling $330,000, when they came due in October, and missed monthly payments on a third loan, according to a complaint filed Dec. 19 in Cook Court Circuit Court.

The owners said they took out a credit line on Mr. Beef, which they have operated for the past 31 years, to open a new restaurant called Natalino's, at 1523 W. Chicago Ave. The new restaurant opened in March of last year.

Zucchero said that 120-seat eatery "does phenomenal, even in this market," and said he sees the foreclosure case as an example of how some tight-fisted lenders are squeezing small entrepreneurs.

Zucchero said that he and Genevese are working on trying to secure refinancing with another bank to pay off Midwest.

Crain's Chicago Business has full details.

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