CROWN POINT │ After 29 years, Valentino’s Café & Ice Cream Parlor in the old Lake County Courthouse is facing eviction.
According to a petition posted on its Facebook page, Valentino’s claims the Lake County Court House Foundation is “trying to steal the family business right from under our feet.”
The troubles began a year ago when Valentino’s co-owner Stacy Jaroscak died after battling cancer.
Stacy Jaroscak’s husband, co-owner Dave Jaroscak, said they got behind in the rent because they were closed for a while because of his wife’s illness.
Jaroscak said after she died there was a verbal agreement with the Foundation to “get caught up whenever we could,” he said.
In December there was an argument that between the two parties that caused the Foundation to take legal action against them, Dave Jaroscak said.
“Within five days, they started proceedings to try and kick us out,” he said.
Court House Foundation President Martha Wheeler said because the situation is in litigation, she could not comment.
She said people can “say all these crazy things on social media, but we do not have that right.”
Jaroscak said the Foundation won’t let them sell the place because they won’t negotiate a contract with him. In their 29 years of business, a lease was signed only 15 times, according to Jaroscak.
“Someone who’s been there that long, it’s something that happens all the time,” he said. “In 2012 – the last time my lease ran out – they never offered me one.”
Jaroscak said he didn’t think about it at the time because of his wife’s illness and because he’s gone three to four years at a time without a lease.
But now he says the Foundation is “using legal stuff against me.”
Jaroscak said they were behind in rent for a few months in 2013 but are currently caught up.
“But they won’t cash my checks,” he said.
Jaroscak said a meeting with the Foundation was held on St. Patrick’s Day but no terms could be agreed on. He expects to return to court one more time, “if not more.”
Wheeler said, “I’d like to respond, because I know they’re using my good name here and I don’t like it,” she said. “The courthouse is my passion and I don’t like this situation at all.”