Nix's, the restaurant that blamed a decline in business on a mysterious foul odor and fought eviction, has reached an agreement with its landlord to remain on Front Street.
Nix's owner, Abner Kurtin, said Friday he also has closed a sister restaurant, Nix's Kitchen in South Windsor's Evergreen Walk, to concentrate all his efforts on Hartford. Kurtin said he didn't want to invest more money in South Windsor when nearby restaurants there also had closed.
"It's almost like we are relaunching Nix's," Kurtin said. "The food is great, the smell is gone and we are looking forward to welcoming back the Hartford community."
Landlord HB Nitkin Group has agreed to not pursue the eviction in exchange for the restaurant making all its future rent payments on time, including additional payments for back rent and the landlord's legal fees. Nix's must pay $50,000 by Monday and $5,000 a month for 22 months, according to Nitkin.
Nix's stopped making rent payments last year, holding Nitkin responsible for the odor. Nitkin sought eviction in November; and Kurtin responded with a lawsuit that argued Nitkin failed to correct the odor. The odor, Kurtin said, led to a significant drop-off in business.
Nitkin said all payments must be made on time, or there will be an immediate eviction.
"Our hope and expectation is that the tenant will fulfill all of its obligations under the lease and [the agreement reached in court] and that the restaurant will be a success going forward," Peter J. Christian, Nitkin's director of development and acquisitions, said.
Kurtin said the restaurant has made changes to its ventillation system that appear to have taken care of the odor problems. The restaurant still has not been able to determine the precise source of the smell.
"We took steps to control and abate it and we haven't noticed it, so we hope that will be the end of it," Kurtin said.
Kurtin said he has invested $100,000 in new furniture, including custom booths, to give the restaurant a new look. Nix's also has a new chef, Philip Parise, who previously worked at Rizzuto's Restaurant and Bar in West Hartford's Blue Back Square.
Nix's also is carving out a space that would cater to students that will be attending the new University of Connecticut's downtown campus this fall. The cafe will offer salads and pastas and will accept "Husky Bucks," which acts like a debit card.
"We're excited about the long-term prospects of Front Street, particularly with UConn opening in August," Kurtin said.
Nix's hasn't entirely resolved its dispute with Nitkin. Kurtin said the restaurant is still pursuing damages from lost business caused by the odor. Kurtin said Nix's lost $35,000 a month when the smell was at its worst.
Christian said Nix's has the right to pursue any claim.
"What that claim would be is difficult for me to guess," Christian said, noting that Kurtin has focused in on the ventillation system as the problem. "All such piping and HVAC systems were designed and installed by the tenant."