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By Devin Rose
A woman who loaned $100,000 to a gay nightclub in Oak Park in 2008 is suing the original and current owners of the business, claiming they have defaulted on the loan.
Carol Bertacchi owned the Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge, 728 Lake St., from its opening in the spring of 2008 until the fall of 2009, when she sold it to current owner Frank Elliott.
Ellen Bettenhausen, who is identified as the lender in a 2008 promissory note, is alleging a breach of contract in the lawsuit, saying that Bertacchi did not make payments in a timely manner. Bettenhausen is seeking $60,553 plus interest to date along with court and attorneys' fees.
Bettenhausen was owner of a wine bar called The Abbey, which the Velvet Rope replaced at 728 Lake St.
The Velvet Rope was shuttered in June as the result of a fire that officials have ruled to be caused by arson.
According to the promissory note, Bertacchi was to pay installments of principal and interest in the amount of $1,213.28 each month for 36 consecutive months beginning on April 1, 2008.
The final payment was to be made on April 1, 2011, unless otherwise extended.
A chart of payments included in court documents show that Bertacchi paid $1,213.28 each month from April through November of 2008. She then paid the same amount in January of 2009. The next date listed was September 2009, when she paid $14,559.
Bertacchi was sued by R.P. Fox and Associates, who own the Lake Street building, in March 2009, but the case was dismissed in September of that year, according to court documents. In June 2009, Wirtz Beverage sued Bertacchi and Velvet Rope Inc., but that case was dismissed two months later. Citibank filed suit against Bertacchi that July, and that was dismissed in April 2010.
Attempts to reach Bettenhausen and Bertacchi were unsuccessful Friday. Phone calls to their attorneys were not returned. A call to building owner Mike Fox was also not returned.
Elliott was listed as the person making payments beginning in January 2010, when he paid $1,213. He paid that same amount each month from February to April, then paid it again once in June, twice in August and once each in September, November and December. In April, June and August of 2011, he paid $613 per month.
The contract complaint was filed in September, according to court documents. Last month, Judge Bill Taylor continued the case for a case management conference. The next court date is Sept. 24, the documents said.
In addition, U.S. Foodservice Inc., a wholesale supply company, on June 22, filed a separate lawsuit alleging that Elliott purchased products totaling $5,214.30 for his business, identified as Midnight Lounge Inc.
U.S. Foodservice alleges it has "made numerous and repeated demands on the defendants and the defendants have refused and continue to refuse to pay the same."
The company claims that Elliott personally guaranteed all debts of the business, and that it is owed $5,564.30. A court date was scheduled for Aug. 2.
A phone call to Elliott on Friday was not returned. He said in July that since the June 3 fire, he has been concentrating on opening a bar in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood.
He said his insurance company and police were continuing to investigate the fire and that he would wait until the investigation was complete to start repairs.