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Mahogany's owner wants to relocate away from The Banks

Jay Hanselman

The owner of a troubled restaurant at The Banks development said Tuesday she is looking for a new location.  Liz Rogers gave a prepared statement about the future of Mahogany's during a press conference at the facility.

"We find that we are in the midst of a climate that is not conducive to successfully executing our business model here at The Banks,” Rogers said.  “We have determined that our restaurant model is not a fit for The Banks development and we are interested in relocating.”

Rogers did not take questions from reporters.  She was introduced, read her brief statement and immediately left the room.

Rogers relocated her soul food restaurant from Hamilton, Ohio, to The Banks development a couple years ago.  

Roger admitted the restaurant has faced financial and managerial difficulties after a successful opening.  She said she has not walked away from any liabilities.  Roger’s also said media coverage of problems at the restaurant have interfered with customers, suppliers and “shaken any confidence of potential investors that we may have had.”  

At least two African-American pastors agreed Rogers has been placed under a microscope that other business owners have avoided.

“If I was Liz I would really question moving somewhere else the way the city had supported her,” said Pastor KZ Smith.  “But I really applaud her that the fire has not gone out as she’s trying to find another location.”

Her landlord, NIC Riverbanks One, LLC,  has given her until Friday to vacate the space at The Banks for violating her lease agreement.  It exercised that option for failure to pay rent and failure to remain open for business per terms of its lease.  Rogers allegedly owes more than $22,000 in back rent and the restaurant was briefly closed last month for not paying state sales taxes.  Rogers is also behind on payments for a city of Cincinnati loan she received to open Mahogany's.  

Rogers' attorney has contacted the city requesting it take immediate action to cure the past due rent to the landlord.  The city could do that  because of the financing package it has given Rogers.  The city would have 10 days from the notice of default to act.  That notice was delivered on September 2nd.

Interim City Solicitor Terry Nestor addressed the issue in a written memo to Mayor John Cranley and Council Members:

This matter is essentially a legal dispute between Mahogany's and its landlord, and it is hoped that those two parties will be able to satisfactorily resolve this matter between themselves in a productive manner and without city intervention to cure the alleged default.

The Cincinnati Business Courier is reporting Rogers met with 3CDC last week about relocating her restaurant to Over-the-Rhine.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.