Hubbard Inn sues Julia Reel, woman who claimed in viral video that staff assaulted her

A River North restaurant is suing a woman who posted a viral video claiming she was manhandled by the establishment’s security and thrown down stairs.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County, Hubbard Inn alleges the woman defamed the business in her video last week and triggered an onslaught of negative reviews, threats and cancellations at the business at 110 W. Hubbard St.

The woman, Julia Reel, 22, alleged in her video and a police report that a bouncer pulled her from a second-floor restroom and twice threw her down a set of stairs shortly after midnight on March 10.

She was treated for bruises and a concussion at an emergency room, her lawyers say.

“I’m just pushed down. He sends me flying down the staircase,” Reel said in a now-deleted video on the social media site TikTok. The post was viewed more than 100,000 times before she took it down, the lawsuit claims.

The restaurant defended itself in its own video posted to TikTok last week, juxtaposing security video of her being escorted outside alongside the woman’s original video where she said she was assaulted.

“Below is footage of Ms. Reel walking down the stairs toward the exit,” the restaurant said in its video captions. “She was politely escorted off the premises, ensuring a safe exit.”

Lawyers representing Reel released a video statement over the weekend, also on TikTok, claiming the restaurant’s video presents a “misleading narrative” and the security footage has an unexplained two-minute gap and doesn’t show part of the staircase where she was allegedly pushed.

“Respectfully, we urge the public to hold off on a rush to judgment and/or victim shaming until all of the evidence is presented in a court of law,” Reel’s lawyers at the firm Corboy & Demetrio said in their video.

Reel declined to be interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times. So did the restaurant’s owner, Carmen Rossi.

The restaurant’s video was shared widely too, leading to some comments critical of Reel. The website Reddit disabled comments on one post about the video because people were sharing Reel’s personal information.

In its lawsuit, Hubbard Inn claims the woman and her friend were verbally abusive to staff in the second-floor restroom, prompting the guard to escort the women outside.

The restaurant says the edited security videos have only a 45-second gap, and that security video does not show eight steps of the staircase.

“Not surprisingly, Hubbard Inn’s security camera footage does not cover every square foot of the premises,” the lawsuit states. “The footage does show, however, Defendant being calmly escorted … out of the establishment.”

“This clearly contradicts her false allegations that she was ‘grabb[ed],’ ‘manhandle[d],’ and ‘dragg[ed]’ out of the bathroom and into the hallway, and ‘shoved’ down the stairs, sending her ‘flying down the rest of the staircase,’ at which point she ‘slammed her head on the ground,’” the lawsuit reads.

The woman filed a report with Chicago police while she was being treated in Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s emergency department.

According to the police report, Reel, reporting an assault, told police a guard came into the restroom stall where she was urinating and pulled her out by grabbing her arm. The guard said, “We know what you are doing,” and pushed her toward the exit — before she could fully dress — and down the stairs, the report states.

The women took themselves to the hospital and were treated for injuries, including a “bruised up arm and head,” which struck the floor, the police report states. It does not mention a concussion.

Chicago police on Monday said no one has been arrested in connection with the report.

Hubbard Inn, which opened in 2011, operates under the restaurant group 8 Hospitality, owned by Rossi, who was fined last year for violating City Hall lobbying rules.

A spokesperson for Rossi said he was hoping to avoid filing a lawsuit but had no choice after Reel’s lawyers “posted another video attacking our establishment.”

In its lawsuit, the restaurant said it had tried to contact Reel after she posted the first video but never heard back.

Reel’s attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit. “The civil justice system is well equipped to resolve the disputes between the parties,” attorney Bill Gibbs said in a statement shared by a spokesperson.



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