The Vine opens again for business
Mother's Day weekend is huge for local restaurants and The Vine in South Bend has re-opened in time to capitalize on that business.
The city owns the building and they changed the locks because the owner of the restaurant was several months behind on rent and owed about $38,000.
People from The Vine met with people from the city Saturday morning to pay for more than half of the rent that was owed.
South Bend still has the keys and access to the property but a city attorney says in the spirit of flexibility and support of small businesses the restaurant was allowed to open.
People like Don Coddens ate at The Vine Saturday.
He heard about how the city changed the locks because the owner was behind on rent.
On their way to see West Side Story at the Morris they saw the restaurant was open so they decided to go in and have a meal after the show.
He says, "We like the idea of supporting people when they need help and obviously if business were up they wouldn't be having any problems so thought it would be a good place to come."
The owner of The Vine, Mary Spillane, says she paid more than half of what she owed in rent and plans to pay the rest on Monday.
She is going to dispute the fees because she feels like the city should cut her some slack since the harsh winter was so bad for business.
She's not happy about how this all went down.
Spillane says, "I just think it's absolutely ridiculous and I think the city should be embarrassed and I don't think it reflected well on the city."
The city has said they changed the locks to protect the best interest of taxpayers because they thought the owner might try and close after the busy Notre Dame graduation weekend.
When the city went into the restaurant fire code violations were found but the city attorney says those issues were addressed so the fire department decided the restaurant was safe to open.
Spillane says her restaurant in south bend has 28 employees and all of them are very happy the restaurant is open again.
Michele Litteral is the floor manager and she says, "It also helps us provide for our families during this busy time over the next few weeks with so many people coming into town for Notre Dame graduation and other community events it's very important for us financially."
The owner of The Vine says her lease ends at the end of June and she doesn't plan on renewing it or opening another restaurant in South Bend.
The Vine may stay open through June depending on business.
There is a court hearing scheduled for next week between the owner and the city but the owner is hoping they can come to an agreement outside of court.
The Vine restaurant in Elkhart, which Spillane also owns, will stay open.