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Manny’s coming to Sterling?

With liquor license in the clear, pizzeria making offer for Ryan’s, family says

STERLING – With his liquor license issue resolved, the owner of Manny’s Pizza again was making an offer on the former Ryan’s restaurant, where he plans to expand the family franchise, his daughter said Tuesday.

Manny Castro, who operates Manny’s Pizza in Savanna and Manny’s Too in Fulton, made a down payment on the former Ryan’s Family Steakhouse, 3900 E. Lincolnway, in July.

The sale was delayed and escrow expired after the Castro family learned that it might not be able to get a liquor license for the site.

The building and the nearby Applebee’s restaurant are in the former Menard’s shopping center, which is operated by Rubloff-Sterling.

The 1996 Applebee’s deed prohibits Rubloff-Sterling from allowing any portion of the site to be used as a full-service, sit-down restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages unless Applebee’s consents.

But there’s an exception.

The restriction does not apply to a full-service, “sit-down restaurant concept” if at least 51 percent of the restaurant’s entree menu is related to “a single food item, such as beef, chicken or seafood, or a single cuisine, such as Italian, Mexican or Chinese,” the deed says.

At issue was whether Manny’s qualified for the exclusion.

In September, on behalf of Manny’s, Ryan’s Restaurant Group sued US Restaurant Properties Inc. and Sasnak Management Corp, which own and operate the Applebee’s building, in Whiteside County Court. In November, the suit moved to federal court in Rockford.

Thursday, Ryan’s filed a motion to dismiss the suit. Attorney William Shirk, who represents Manny’s, declined to comment, as did Dave Phillips, director of restaurant marketing for Applebee’s.

But Castro’s daughter, Kathy Kingery, said Tuesday that the pizzeria will be allowed to have a liquor license.

“They have released that,” she said. “We’re happy they did.”

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