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Hooters gets eviction notice, owes Block E $442,564

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Will Block E be saying goodbye to its not-so-popular wings 'n a side of waitress joint? The Strib reports that Hooters in downtown Minneapolis has been served an eviction notice.

Block E is on my short list of one of the top 5 worst things in Minneapolis, right behind the axle-breaking, cyclist-maiming potholed streets and ahead of the proposed Northeast pierogi statue. My call would be to evict Hooters faster than the waitresses can grab sweaters, write-off the taxpayer's $38.5 million contribution to the doomed development, demo Block E, and start over. But here's what the Strib has to say about how things will likely proceed:

The restaurant, which is still open, owes Block E Realty $442,564 for back rent, penalties and other charges going back to April 2007, according to documents filed Thursday in Hennepin County District Court.

Steven Marso, who owns the restaurant with his brother John, disputes the amount. He said Friday he's made "multiple payments" and has been trying to work with Block E management for more than a year to reduce the rent or come up with a payment plan, "to no avail."

Representatives for Block E did not return phone calls. An eviction hearing is scheduled for March 15.

Hooters' troubles come at a time when many observers believe the Block E restaurant and entertainment area is finally ready to shine. Hennepin Avenue is open to two-way traffic, and the area expects to get a boost after the Twins ballpark opens April 2. Kieran's Irish Pub will move into the former Bellanotte spot on March 16.

Unless there's another tenant in the queue to replace Hooters, this may be a poor time for the development to leave its prime skyway location on Hennepin Avenue sitting empty. Borders has been shuttered since 2008, and Sega GameWorks is looking for a business to take over its two-story spot.

Marso said while all restaurants have been hit by the recession, he blamed Block E's management company for failing to keep the building occupied and to draw steady crowds. He said he has never missed a payroll for the 45 to 50 employees at the Block E restaurant.

Hooters opened across from Target Center in July 2006 in the face of opposition from city and community leaders who wanted a more "family-friendly" business. Taxpayers put $38.5 million into the Block E development, which has never lived up to expectations.

The Marso brothers operate another Hooters in Burnsville through their company, Twin Wings of Minneapolis. They are delinquent on $47,947 in property taxes for the Burnsville restaurant, according to Dakota County records.