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Cousins's Restaurant & Lounge

This undated file photo shows Cousin's Restaurant at 921 Maple Hill Road, Bloomington.

Pantagraph file photo

BLOOMINGTON — The former owner of Cousin’s Restaurant was ordered Tuesday by the Bloomington Liquor Commission to pay a $2,000 fine for refusing to follow the order of a subpoena and appear before the board last month.

Blerim Bekiri, who formerly owned the business at 921 Maple Hill Road, must pay the fine by the end of the business day Wednesday after failing to appear before the commission in April.

“I was overseas and unavailable to be here in person,” Bekiri said.

Bekiri appeared at the commission’s hearing Tuesday after previously showing documents that he had transferred Cousin’s Restaurant to Eric Trujillo in November. Last month, Trujillo told the commission that he had agreed to the sale, but Bekiri’s signature was missing from transfer-of-ownership papers.

Following that hearing, city attorney George Boyle said Bekiri had been in contact and had proof of the transfer of ownership.

Bekiri was ordered to appear before the commission May 17 to address the back taxes still owed the city.

Meanwhile, prior to Tuesday’s meeting, Trujillo made good on back taxes owed from the date of the sale in November to March. Still, he was assessed a $2,000 fine for failure to properly notify the city of the change of ownership.

“It is absolutely critical that we know who owns the establishment and that we have complete information because if you are charging your customer taxes on liquor, we need to make sure that the city is also being paid that money,” said Mayor Tari Renner, chairman of the commission.

The liquor license at the restaurant has been suspended since April for failure to pay the taxes. The commission is expected to consider reinstating the license May 17.

In other business, the commission continued until June, a status update on CJ’s Restaurant and Catering, which owes the city an estimated $5,000 in municipal taxes. The restaurant has been closed for more than a month and the Bloomington Normal Airport Authority has taken possession of the restaurant in the former airport terminal.

The owner of the restaurant, Peter Goranitis, did not attend Tuesday’s hearing. The city suspended the liquor license in April for failure to pay the municipal taxes.

Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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