21 Aug 2014
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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.

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

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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