Home Law Emergency motion shuts down Abrio’s Brick Oven

Emergency motion shuts down Abrio’s Brick Oven

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Judge Robert W. Stewart of the Court of Common Pleas for Athens County passed an emergency motion, filed by Jack Harris of CMH Hospitality, to cease operations at Abrio’s Vera Cucina Restaurant, on Wednesday afternoon.

Judge Stewart heard the motion—filed on September 12—in order to decide whether or not the immediate closing of the restaurant would be in the best interest of the city of Athens and the creditors, the Athens County Economic Development Council, the Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District, the Ohio University Credit Union and Last Hurrah, LLC.

The defendant, Jack Harris, requested by the OUCU due to his extensive knowledge and experience of restaurant receivership, was appointed by the court as receiver, to operate the restaurant and preserve the reputation of the business with the community.

However, Abrio’s is not maintaining profit or even breaking even.  According to Jim Coutinho, Jack Harris’ attorney, Abrio’s is losing about $20,000 per month.

The restaurant is $320,000 in debt to the OUCU, almost $350,000 to Buckeye Hills, and $270,000 to Last Hurrah LLC.

“We hoped that when students came back the business would come back because past finances told us that was what was going to happen,” Coutinho said.

The First Report Of Receivership and Plan, Inventory and Accounting was filed on Sept. 5 and maintained that Harris oversee operations through the month of September and conclude whether or not the business would survive the rest of the year.

Move-in weekend for Ohio University students was expected to bring in above the minimum threshold for sales of $14,000. And while restaurant sales increased by 20 percent, it only grossed $8,500.

“When Sept. 1 hit and the students came back, we did not see those sales return, and Mr. Harris had determined that the damage had been done to this receivership, to this business,” Coutinho said.

Last Hurrah LLC, the restaurants previous operating owner, under Joe Limoli, stated the belief on Wednesday that seven days is not an adequate amount time to make such a decision.

“It is the belief of the Last Hurrah, that going down that same process again, selling a closed down shuttered facility, skipping the best quarter of the year for business, and trying to sell it once closed—once having horrible financials for the last year—is the wrong thing for creditors, the wrong thing for the last hurrah and is the wrong thing for the employees who are working there,” Jonathan Sowash, attorney for the Last Hurrah LLC said.

Harris worked, however, on salvaging the restaurant all summer by trying to improve the menu, taking into account customer’s requests for past recipes, marketing within the community, and worked on preventative maintenance for the restaurant, he said.

While Harris could not comment on the influence of news media on sales, according to documents from the case files, newspaper articles that were circulating about the restaurant’s previous owners allegedly being involved in criminal activity and about Harris filing an emergency motion to cease operations, may have led to the decline.

“One of [the articles] was very confusing to the community,” Harris said in reference to the article about the emergency motion. “It almost seemed as if [Abrio’s] was closed.”

This was partially the reason why Harris closed the restaurant immediately after the hearing.

“The staff was waiting and wondering what was going on,” Harris said.

While this decision does decrease the number of employment opportunity in Athens, Harris is planning to help his staff find jobs in the future with his connections throughout the restaurant industry in Athens.

“I had to deliver some bad news today,” Harris said. “I really feel for the staff that lost their jobs, and after speaking to them to today, I could see that they really love that restaurant.“

 

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