Harvey frozen food maker wants federal judge to open roadway

A Harvey manufacturer of frozen foods such as pizzas and sandwiches is trying to put up a roadblock to what it claims is a renewed effort to block access to its property.

American Kitchen Delights attorney Dennis E. Both filed an amended complaint Aug. 24 against the city, and in a filing Friday asked that it be allowed to further amend the lawsuit.

The newest change being sought involves a public access street that leads to the factory property, just east of Dixie Highway and north of 154th Street.

Harvey representatives were not immediately available for comment.

In the federal complaint, the company continues to seek damages from the city for a barricading incident in late May 2020, where large concrete blocks were placed at the access road as well as at a parking lot used by company employees.

The barricades were quickly taken down after American Kitchen Delights went to court and got a temporary restraining order against the city.

“We were shut down,” Both said last week. “We couldn’t get ingredients here or send product out.”

Harvey, in a response last November to the initial complaint, admitted the barricades were installed but denied American Kitchen Delights had ownership rights for the parking lot, which is to the south of the city’s Police Department lot.

Both said the company was able to secure a lease to use the lot.

“We want them permanently barred from preventing access and we want damages,” he said. “We didn’t go looking for trouble.”

The Friday court filing notes a letter, dated Aug. 29, from the city in which it states the access street is private property rather than a public street.

The filing doesn’t include a copy of the letter and asks that American Kitchen Delights be allowed to amend the complaint to address this new quirk.

In an interview last week before the request for permission to further amend the company’s federal complaint, Both said the letter regarding the access road came from the city’s law firm, Ancel Glink, and indicates the city is reconsidering whether the access road is public or private.

Both declined to provide a copy of the letter, saying at the time he was trying to resolve the matter with the city.

“We will ask the court to declare the access road is a public street,” Both said. “The law is solid that it is a public street.”

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American Kitchen Delights is also plaintiff in a separate lawsuit, filed in January 2018, which claims the city illegally seized a company storage facility on Dixie Highway, to the west of the company’s factory.

The company said the action prevented American Kitchen Delights from processing a customer’s order, resulting in a loss of $1 million in business.

Both said he expects that case will be going to trial in Cook County Circuit Court by early next year.

The company is a manufacturer of frozen foods including pizzas and sandwiches, “mostly hand-held items,” and contracts with companies to make foods under private labels, Both said.

He said that employment can range from 100 to 200 people, “depending on what products we are producing and the time of year.”

“Currently, we are operating normally. We are anticipating another salvo coming from them,” the attorney said, referring to the access street letter.


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