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December 5, 2022

COD- “Stop Bleeding Money”

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On February 27, 2015

DuPage Co. (ECWd) –

There is nothing better than direct communication on matters so the big picture gets painted for all to see.  I received a great e-mail today from Nadia Tilkian, Executive Chef at the Waterleaf in response to this article.  Thank you Ms. Tilkian for contacting me.

I found some of the statements very enlightening, with some great points made that are worthy of pointing out.  I also will address concerns raised in that communication pertaining to “perceptions”

  • “As a business person I thought it much wiser to stop bleeding money and rent the space to a concept more fitting to the area.

So, as a good business person, can we expect her to recommend this course of action with the Waterleaf to the COD Board of Trustees?

  • “Dr. Breuder, Jean Pierre Leroux and I are not in cahoots as implied in your article”.

Cahoots was not the message I was attempting to deliver and if that is what was received, let me clarify.  The message was about perception of businesses that shut down their operation, for what ever reason, those who operated those business, and how they are now running a publicly funded restaurant that is on its third year of over $500,000 in losses.  The “perception” is that a track record is appearing to show itself and that is a track record of failure, regardless of the reasons.

  • “It would be greatly appreciated if you, a journalist would do your due diligence and please make sure your facts are correct.”  “As for Maijean, the word “dissolve” was an interesting choice on your part. It gives the implication that we may have claimed bankruptcy or some wrongdoing.”

Due Diligence? Wrongdoing?  Bankruptcy? My due diligence was to download a copy of the corporate record with the state and report the status as listed by the State of Illinois. The use of the word “dissolve” was accurate reporting, not an attempt to insinuate anything. (Click here for the state record showing Maijean is dissolved).

I made no mention of wrongdoing or bankruptcy nor implied that in any fashion.  My “implication” was that the business history of those running the Waterleaf, which has lost over $1.5 Million dollars of taxpayer money, is not a track record that indicates a bright future for the tax payer as it relates to the Waterleaf.

  • “Also please note I am not in charge of pricing for parties and special events.”

Considering I made no mention of pricing for parties or special events, is this statement a disclosure that there might be a problem with the pricing for parties and special events?  Thanks for the tip!

  • “The Barrington Bistro operated as a successful business for almost 20 years. I believe I had something to do with that.”

I have no way to validate who or what had anything to do with a business’s 20 year’s of operation.  I pointed out clearly, as I do believe my statement to be true, I have no doubt the Chef is absolutely one of the finest chefs in the area, but we all know being a Chef is not the same as running the business.

  • “I would ask you to retract your statement about my lack of competence to run a business. I have worked very hard for many years. Too many for you to come by and ruin my reputation and put my future means of support in jeopardy with your baseless opinions.”

I understand the request, however, we do not retract statements unless they are wrong.  I’m not sure how to interpret “despite many feasibility studies to find the right market, we were clearly in the wrong locale for that genre of restaurant.” Such a study is typically done prior to opening.  If done after the recession, which is insinuated as the cause of the closing, one must ask, why was such a study not done first?  If it was done first, why open at that locale?

“Location is essential to restaurant success, and poor location is likely the number one thing that leads to restaurant failure”

American Express estimates that 90% of restaurants fail in the first year, but Cornell University asserts that a more likely estimate is 60%, with an increase to 80% in the first three to five years of operation. In short, only 10% to 20% of all restaurants get to see the end result of their five-year business plans.(Click here for full article)

I have said many times, success is nothing more than progressive failure.  There is no shame in failure as it is the foundational learning tool for success.  It is how we deal with failure that makes us what we are.  Failure is a part of life.

All that aside, I will say again, all indications are that this person is one of the finest Chef’s in the area.  Every review I have read had glowing comments.  Having eaten at the Waterleaf and assuming this person prepared my meal, no complaints!  It was a great meal and prepared in a true professional manner.

In my opinion, based on over $1.5 Million dollars of losses, I think the great business acumen implemented in her own business should be applied to the Waterleaf:

“As a business person I thought it much wiser to stop bleeding money and rent the space to a concept more fitting to the area.”

When do the taxpayers, who are the ones bleeding money, get relief?

Below is the e-mail in its entirety:

Dear Mr. Allen,
It would be greatly appreciated if you, a journalist would do your due diligence and please make sure your facts are correct. Dr. Breuder, Jean Pierre Leroux and I are not in cahoots as implied in your article. While I cannot speak for your profession, in mine, jobs are procured by through networking, word of mouth, reputation and yes, sometimes working for previous employers. One cannot secure and sustain a job without being competent and keeping costs down.

When I came to the Waterleaf, I had inherited high costs and other issues pertaining to the business. Also please note I am not in charge of pricing for parties and special events. Please also consider that since I have been here costs have consistently come down year after year.

As for Maijean, the word “dissolve” was an interesting choice on your part. It gives the implication that we may have claimed bankruptcy or some wrongdoing. The recession had taken a toll on restaurants of that caliber. Despite many feasibility studies to find the right market, we were clearly in the wrong locale for that genre of restaurant. As a business person I thought it much wiser to stop bleeding money and rent the space to a concept more fitting to the area. All purveyors and employees were paid in full because that is good business. Even the most seasoned professional can experience an unsuccessful venture.

As for your timeline, I had left the Barrington Bistro in the summer of 2005 under good terms to start my own venture. The Barrington Bistro operated as a successful business for almost 20 years. I believe I had something to do with that. When I closed my restaurant in 2011 I had no immediate plans and did not start at the Waterleaf until much later. The decision to close the Bistro was exactly as stated, a desire not to be tethered to a long term lease as I am sure the owners have plans to retire in the next few years and enjoy their lives.
I would ask you to retract your statement about my lack of competence to run a business. I have worked very hard for many years. Too many for you to come by and ruin my reputation and put my future means of support in jeopardy with your baseless opinions.

Nadia Tilkian
Executive Chef, Waterleaf
425 Fawell Blvd. Office CHC 1009E
Glen Ellyn, Il, 60137
Office; 630-942-6432
[email protected]

 

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2 Comments
  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 05:17h, 28 February

    This comment deserves repeating it obviously, OVER AND OVER again I think. Thanks for publishing it the first time John. Please publish it again. Thanks again IllinoisLeaks.com Keep pushing back! Job well done. Keep pursuing this story and many many more like them in our State of Illinois, relentlessly until CRIMINAL charges are filed by the States Attorney and EVERY single person is publicly exposed and held responsible for allowing it to happen on their watch and those responsible are convicted and sentenced to PRISON accordingly not just probation, to set an example to others considering the same crimes and wrongdoing during our watch, WE THE PEOPLE are watching you obviously now, be aware of that. Thank God. I pray God has mercy on all our souls. You should toO obviously. Pray MORE. Do MORE. Please. That’s all We the People can do in reality. Quit playing in Fantasy Land or this is the result eventually. Take action NOW before this public trust erosion COLLAPSE’ the very foundation our government agencies are obviously built upon and we the people ALL RELY UPON as average American citizens in our community everyday.

    AGAIN… It’s all about the money, the addiction (love) of money they obviously have that fuels it, to justify their bloated obscene ever increasing annual budgets in most government agencies across the board, it’s not about stopping the addiction to money, it’s about wanting more every year after year, more, more and even more, it’s not about reducing annual budgets year after year, proactively conserving our precious public resources and ONLY used on legitimate needs our society has, and instead it’s now the status quo to just accept the wasting our precious public resources and profiting of the backs of others unjustly. It’s WRONG! Expose it publicly MORE not LESS. Open source intelligence. Informed decisions based on the TRUTH not fantasy land. DUH. ITS illegal, it’s public corruption and business as usual with the ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ network who protect each other through secret societies. Let’s expose it together as responsible citizens who are all WELL informed and MORE involved in OUR Republic. Join us. You in? WHY NOT? in

  • Robert Sloat (Observing from Lake County)
    Posted at 13:00h, 28 February

    $1.5 million in losses over 3 years seems to say something needs to be done. Add to this the capital investment to build and equip the restaurant and the conclusion is that it was a mistake. A Board review and decision needs to be made. It will be entertaining to see how folks defend the enterprise at this stage.

    Now let’s look at the hotel. Does it make money?

    We can’t forget the economic value contributed by the folks who patron these facilities. As part of their visit to the restaurant or the hotel, did they buy enough stuff at the book store to generate at least $ 1.5 million in profits to make up for the restaurant losses? That’s a lot of COD sweatshirts. Let’s see the studies the Board has made on this.

    The restaurant should be named after the President not the Homeland Security building. It is also a step child of the President, sadly more likely to converted to other use and one of those projects demanded by a person who publically stated five star general rank should be bestowed on him from the get go. Working your way up to that rank takes talent and time lacking in the current impatient one.

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