The Times
  • Burrito Jonz closes its doors in Herkimer

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  • HERKIMER — Burrito Jonz, at the corner of North Main Street and Park Avenue, closed its doors over the weekend after only three months in business.
    Its owner said the closure was due to a disagreement with the landlord, while the landlord said it was over the owner’s refusal to pay rent.
    This is after $30,000 had been invested into the business - $15,000 from the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency and $15,000 from the village of Herkimer.
    Mark Feane, IDA executive director, said Monday there were provisions on the grant if the company went out of business.
    “Our lawyers are going to need to investigate what the cause was for going out of business,” he said.
    Herkimer Mayor Mark Ainsworth could not be reached for comment Monday.
    On Monday, the Burrito Jonz sign had been removed from the building and an auction was held of all of its equipment. Owner John Winter said “everything” was going back to the village.
    Winter talked about what led to his closing the business so soon after opening and after a little less than two years of planning and remodeling.
    “I couldn’t get to an agreement with the landlord,” he said. “I didn’t pay rent because he didn’t fix what he was supposed to.”
    Winter added, “I don’t know what I’m going to do now … I’m going to try and regroup.”
    Winter closed his Burrito Jonz location in Utica in August 2013.
    Alex Dorantes said he and his brother Jason Dorantes were in negotiations with Winter in February 2012, when they first bought the building.
    “It was a successful business, I liked the food and he said he could do well in Herkimer,” said Dorantes during an interview Monday.
    A five-year lease agreement was signed in August 2012 for $500 a month for rent with no increases, he said.
    Dorantes said over the next year, improvements were made to the building to accommodate Winter’s requests.
    In May 2012, the IDA granted Burrito Jonz $15,000. In January 2013, the Herkimer village board approved a $15,000 loan from a revolving loan fund for the project, but specified the funds could be used for equipment only.
    In an April 5, 2013 Telegram article, Winter said he anticipated the restaurant opening “very, very soon.” The plan was to hire three full-time employees and six to 10 part-time employees.
    Dorantes said, however, after he wasn’t paid rent for January and February after trying to negotiate with Winter, he said he and his brother looked into having a three-day pay or quit eviction.
    Last week, Dorantes and Winter said a court decided he needed to pay rent. Dorantes said he is owed a little over $2,000 for rent and another fee from the court decision. He also said the decision included evicting the owner.
    Page 2 of 2 - Dorantes said he is also out the money he put into restoring the old Sprint Communication building into a restaurant.
    In the meantime, Dorantes said he is looking toward the future.
    “We have a list of people who want to do business with us,” he said.
    Dorantes said they’ve had two other businesses open in the same building - Custom Cuts Barber Shop and Top Dollar Gold - for a little over a year.
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