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April 27, 2017

Nix's, Front Street settle rent dispute

Photo | Heather Conley Photography LLC Nix's restaurant in downtown Hartford.

The owner of Front Street’s Nix's Hartford restaurant, which has been facing eviction for months, said Thursday that his eatery will remain open after reaching a settlement with his landlord over overdue rent payments.

Abner Kurtin, Nix's managing partner, said he’s reached an agreement to pay Front Street landlord HB Nitkin Group $50,000 up front and $190,000 over three years in overdue rent in order to remain open. 

Nix’s was facing eviction after it refused to pay rent over what it described as offensive smells emanating at the property and turning away business. Landlord HB Nitkin Group sued Nix’s in Hartford Superior Court late last year seeking unpaid back rent. The case was recently moved to housing court where the parties presented the judge with a settlement.

Front Street attorney Thomas Moriarty could not be reached immediately for comment.

The restaurant has been open while the case was pending, Kurtin said.

The smells are long gone, Kurtin said, after he hired contractors to help control the situation by moving the air intake on the roof and using air fresheners to improve air quality.

"Front Street agrees not to pursue eviction and reinstate the lease as long as payments are made," Kurtin said.

Another lawsuit remains pending, however, in which Nix's is seeking unspecified damages for the harm the smells caused to its business, Kurtin said.

Nix's was eager to settle the housing court matter, since UConn's nearby downtown campus opens in August and its Graduate School for Public Health is close to operating. The developments will increase foot traffic at Front Street, Kurtin said.

Meantime, Kurtin said he's spent $100,000 improving the restaurant, hiring a new chef, and launching a campaign called, "New Chef New Look New Nix's." The chef is Bill Parisse, formerly of Rizzuto's Restaurant & Bar in West Hartford, Kurtin said.

Nix’s also has added new furniture, a new food and drinks menu, and a catering division, as well as a cafe for takeout salads, sandwiches and pastas.

"While this was an unfortunate period for everybody, we are excited about the significant improvements we've made to Nix's and the opportunity to participate in the nearly completed Front Street District," Kurtin said.

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