Clouted Park Grill owners want to sell Millennium Park eatery
BY LISA DONOVAN Staff Reporterldonovan@suntimes.com
The clout-heavy owners of Park Grill, whose recent court victory freed them from paying property taxes on the upscale restaurant, may be looking to get out, sources say.
Attorneys for the eatery in Millennium Park — nestled between Michigan Avenue and tourist magnet “The Bean” — have approached the Park District’s legal counsel about a possible sale, Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said.
With the property tax issue resolved, the owners may have seen this as a good time to pitch the “for sale” sign, though details about a potential buyer weren’t available Wednesday.
“We have not yet had the opportunity to meet with the Park Grill owners as of yet, so those details have not been worked out,” Maxey-Faulkner wrote in an e-mail to the Sun-Times.
Owners Matthew O’Malley and Mayor Daley’s friend Fred Barbara could not be reached for comment, and Anthony Licata, the one-time Park Grill attorney who owns a share in the restaurant, declined comment.
Opened in 2003, the restaurant landed in the spotlight in 2005 when the Sun-Times reported that a Park District official became pregnant by O’Malley during lease negotiations for the site.
The highly favorable lease waived property taxes and fees for water, gas and garbage pickup.
Then-Cook County Assessor Jim Houlihan’s attempt to put Park Grill on the tax rolls was met with a court challenge. The owners successfully argued all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court that they hold a concession license with the Park District not a rental agreement that subjects them to a leasehold tax, a form of property tax.
Contributing: Fran Spielman, Tim Novak