Court Permission Sought To Close Athens Restaurant

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A man appointed by a court to operate Abrio's Vera Cucina is asking for permission to close the East State Street restaurant.

Jack Harris of CMH Hospitality Inc., who was appointed by Athens County Common Pleas Court in April as receiver to run Abrio’s, made the request.

In April, Judge L. Alan Goldsberry granted a $305,138 judgment against the restaurant’s owner, Lady Hawke LLC, and in favor of the Ohio

University Credit Union. The credit union claimed that Lady Hawke failed to keep current on monthly payments on a $300,000 loan. The receiver was appointed at that time.

Harris has been operating the restaurant with the goal of maintaining its value as a business, but in a court filing last week asked for permission to close the restaurant.

"Based on the receiver's experience and knowledge of the marketplace, the receiver believes that there is no value to the restaurant as a going concern," the motion states.

Harris had hoped that business at the restaurant would pick up when Ohio University students returned for fall semester, but he hasn't seen sufficient growth, according to the motion.

"In the most recent week, the restaurant grossed only $8,500, which is well below the minimum threshold of $14,000 (needed to maintain operations)," the motion states.

Harris has taken out two small loans to keep the restaurant operating, and told the court that continued operation would just reduce the amount of money that will go to creditors when the restaurant is sold.

If the restaurant is closed, Harris will need to borrow additional funds to make payments on the restaurant's land lease and to cover utilities and insurance until the building, its furniture, fixtures and equipment is sold, court documents indicate.

Harris told the court that he would try to help the employees find other jobs.

As of Thursday, a ruling by the court had not been filed. Also pending is a motion filed earlier by Harris to hire a broker to try to find a buyer for the restaurant.

There are other creditors besides the Ohio University Credit Union, including Athens County’s revolving loan fund, which loaned $230,000 toward the purchase of the restaurant, and Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District, which loaned $100,000.