Jonathan Bilyk Jun. 13, 2016, 3:41pm

A restaurant and tavern group, which operates nearly a dozen sites sprinkled throughout the Loop and Chicago’s North and Near West sides, and which hopes to open a new restaurant in Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park, has been hit with a class action lawsuit, alleging it left customers with no options to cash out or transfer rewards credits toward free food and drink when the group transitioned to a different customer loyalty rewards program.

On June 6, plaintiff Micah Riskin, identified in the lawsuit as a resident of Cook County, filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the Chicago-based Four Corners Tavern Group, alleging the company violated Illinois consumer fraud law and was unjustly enriched in the process when it earlier this year abruptly ended its participation in a loyalty rewards program administered by a third party, in favor of a customized program unique to its own branded establishments.

Riskin is represented in the action by attorneys Aron D. Robinson and Jeffrey Arman, each of Chicago.

According to the lawsuit, Four Corners Tavern Group had participated in and promoted customer participation in a loyalty reward program, identified in the lawsuit as Spring Rewards, beginning in early 2015 The program, which relied on an app downloaded to customers’ smartphones, enabled patrons of Four Corners’ various bars to receive a $10 credit for every $250 spent at a specific Four Corners establishment.

According to its website, Four Corners currently operates 11 establishments, identified as Benchmark, Schoolyard, WestEnd,  Kirkwood, Gaslight, Sidebar, Ranalli’s, Highline, Federales, Fremont and SteakBar.

According to the lawsuit, the reward points were specific to individual bars, and could not be transferred to other establishments. For instance, money spent at Highline did not count toward credits at Benchmark or any of Four Corners’ other establishments.

Riskin said he enrolled in Spring Rewards at Highline in March 2015. He also enrolled in the program at Four Corners’ Benchmark and Kirkwood locations, the lawsuit said.

However, in January 2016, Riskin said he received an email from Four Corners informing him and others like him, enrolled in the Spring Rewards program, that Four Corners was ending its participation in Spring Rewards, in favor of a new customized, in-house rewards program, identified in the lawsuit as My4C Points, which it said “would perfectly suit our customers’ needs.” The email said customers had until the end of February to redeem any “rewards” they had already earned through Spring Rewards.

Riskin said he had intentionally given those Four Corners bars – and Highline, in particular – his business, to accumulate points toward the reward credits.

However, he said he was short of receiving the credits at the time the program was cancelled, including just $10 short of receiving the credit at Highline, when the program was cancelled.

He alleged Four Corners needed to provide customers options for either transferring reward points already earned into the new program, or redeeming the points in some other way.

Riskin’s complaint alleged the plaintiffs believe “hundreds or thousands” of others potentially suffered similar loss when Four Corners transitioned to the new rewards program.

The lawsuit asked the court to certify a class of additional plaintiffs, and award unspecified compensatory damages, plus attorney fees.

Earlier this year, Four Corners Tavern Group also was revealed as the company the Chicago Park District had selected to operate a new restaurant planned for Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park. According to published reports, Park District officials have indicated that restaurant could open sometime in 2017.

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