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Waterfront restaurants future uncertain

Evicted 3 months ago, McCall's operator has yet to propose a buyer

Almost three months after a jury ruled that the city could evict McCall's Waterfront Restaurant operator Timothy Gillis, the wrangling over the city-owned property at 1020 S.W. Naito Parkway continues.

After the trial ended in late October, Gillis and his TAG Investment Corp. signed an agreement aimed at an orderly transfer of the property. The restaurant, located in Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, is administered by Portland Parks & Recreation.

The agreement, Deputy City Attorney Harry Auerbach said, gave Gillis 'through the end of January to operate the restaurant and try to find somebody else to buy it. We agreed he could pay us out of the proceeds of any sale.'

By Thursday, however, the city had not heard from Gillis.

'Technically he had until Tuesday (Jan. 18) to bring forward the name of a new operator,' Auerbach said. 'He's got a little bit longer to present us with somebody to approve, to sell the business to. My understanding is that there are one or two.'

At McCall's, a recorded message said the restaurant closed Dec. 21 for the holidays and planned to reopen Jan. 25 Ñ although, according to the agreement, the city can evict him just a day later.

Auerbach, sounding baffled, said: 'I don't know why they're not operating now. I don't know how they're going to operate again on the 25th.'

Attempts to contact Gillis were unsuccessful. His attorney, Tim Murphy, said he didn't know what was going on. 'I really don't have any comments,' he said.

Gillis, in the agreement, waived his right to challenge or appeal the jury verdict.

Gillis now owes the city almost $25,000, including about $15,000 in attorney's fees.

'We agreed he could pay us out of the proceeds of any sale,' Auerbach said. But with no sale Ñ or its proceeds Ñ 'we're going to have to go in and take the place,' Auerbach said. 'We're basically concerned about getting access.'

He said the city wants someone to operate McCall's who has the experience and the finances to make the restaurant a success.

The agreement specifies that Gillis is forbidden to have any affiliation with the next operator, who is supposed to open the restaurant no later than April 1.

He initially was given an Oct. 1 eviction order, which he did not comply with, after Auerbach sent a letter citing six 'events of default' that prompted the city to terminate the lease, including failing to remain current on lease payments. Gillis said he did not pay rent for six months because he was locked out of the building while the city repaired the kitchen and restaurant.

Auerbach said Gillis also violated his lease in August when two city officials went to McCall's to do a construction inspection and he ordered them to leave.