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Mayor Weighs in on Tony's Villa Rosa, Great Lakes Bank Dispute

Mokena Mayor Joe Werner shares his views on Tony's Villa Rosa Pizza and Great Lakes Bank lease dispute, why he didn't reach out to the bank and his future meeting with the bank's president.

Following the closure of .

Despite the best efforts of Tony's management and staff, including Trustee Don Labriola and Director of Community and Economic Development Alan Zordan, Great Lakes Bank and Tony's couldn't reach a lease agreement, forcing the pizza shop to close its doors in Mokena.

One person who didn't reach out to the bank was Mokena Mayor Joe Werner, who said the situation was unfortunate, but that reaching out wouldn't have helped.

“I didn't only because I was aware of so many other people bludgeoning them,” Werner said. “I believed in my own mind, that if there's something that Great Lakes could have done differently, they would have.”

Werner acknowledged that reaction within the community was decidedly against the bank, but he cautioned that there is likely more to the story.

“It's frustrating when we see this happening,” Werner said. “We want to lash out at the banks and blame the banks and say that it's all their fault. … We want to point to the bank then, but they have limitations on what they can do with these financially distressed properties.”

The mayor said that it is his understanding, through discussions with a friend in the banking field who has no specific knowledge on the Tony's ordeal, that there are rules and regulations banks must follow when dealing with properties like the Tony's location.

Werner said that it, “makes no sense,” to get rid of a potential rent-paying business, but that it is how banks are forced to operate in some instances.

“A bank is affected differently having a low-rent lease holder in a financially distressed building differently than having the building empty,” he said.

He added that although he has not spoken to anyone at Great Lakes Bank yet, he is scheduled to meet with Ron Shropshire, President of Great Lakes Bank, some time in the near future.

“He and I talked a few weeks ago and agreed that we would get together,” Werner said. “I'm hoping to actually get together with Ron in the next week or two. Just sit down and talk and make sure I'm on the same page, that I'm clear on where they're at. As I mentioned, I would like to know if there's anything else that could be done or that could have been done.”

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PS May 22, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Banks are not forced to operate in any instance. They only exist to make money and they can only make money from you and me. After the bubbles burst that they create and regulation is put in place to protect us, it only provides them with another opportunity to find new loopholes and create a new boom and bust cycle to extract money from our pockets.
MW May 22, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Seems a little late for a sit down with the bank Mayor Werner. You should be on the side of local busineses and the people of this community.
Charlene Bergman May 22, 2012 at 05:46 PM
If it is true that they were asked to leave because they did not have an on-going lease in effect - it would seem to me that they could have allowed them to remain there until the lease with the Farmer's Insurance company also ran out and then closed the building entirely.Why displace the pizza company because of no on-going lease and allow Farmer's Ins. to remain open - this doesn't make sense - allow the pizza place to remain open as long as the insurance company is operating with a lease and then hopefully renegotiate leases with both of them and keep the building open or close both of them at the same time. COMMON SENSE is not taught in the homes or schools and we have a very basic need to bring COMMON SENSE back into our language and lifestyles.
Mok-We May 22, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I find it truly dissappointing that Mayor Werner sat idle while another Mokena business left town and then has the audacity to basically criticize those that tried " Blugeoned the Bank" ! Mayor Werner should have been out front fighting to keep Villa Rosa in town , but this fits his usual pattern of "oh well it's somebody else's fault " ! I bet the mayor would have fought hard for it if it involved a public forum where he could have spoke on and on about himself ! Keep up the good work Mayor and if enough store fronts open up maybe JERSEY MIKES will think about moving here ????
David Molinari May 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I spoke with Ed Miller of the American Family ins. Who is still a renter at the building. I met him at the Downtown merchants market and he has a very compelling story about the dishonesty of Great lakes Bank and their treatment of him. I think the only one who got bludgeoned was Villa Rosa and Mokena front street
mokena May 23, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Its done lets move on people.I'm sure the bank has rules and policies it follows right or wrong..... its a pizza place not a homeless shelter..they will find a new location and be better off.
Bob Lewis May 25, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Yea they can find a new location and be better off, in a different town. Just like Cottage Creations moved to Frankfort after many years in Mokena. Charlene hit the nail on the head. They could have been allowed to stay open with the insurance company still in the building. Mr. Mayor you are going to sit down with the bank president to see if you're on the same page? Then what? Why wasn't this meeting scheduled while Tony villa rosa was still open? No one cares what they have to say right now, damage is done. You say that you believe in your own mind that the bank would have done something different if they could. Some way mayor you always figure out a way to make an issue about yourself even when you sit back and do nothing once again. In the meantime we lose another business to a different towne.
Vince DiFiore May 27, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Banks and robbers barons , move hand in hand and should no be rewarded for their misdeeds.

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