Two Deals To Buy Abrio’s Fall Through

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After the failure of two potential sales of the former Abrio’s restaurant in Athens — including one to open an IHOP restaurant — permission is being sought to sell the contents of the building.

Jack Harris, court-appointed receiver for the former restaurant, has filed a motion in Athens County Common Pleas Court asking for permission to auction off the furniture, fixtures and equipment. Harris has asked for an emergency hearing on the matter, which has been set for April 1.
The contents of the East State Street building are worth about $40,000-$50,000, according to a document filed by Harris’ attorney.

Abrio’s Vera Cucina, which was owned by Lady Hawke LLC, was closed in 2013 after Harris requested court permission to do so. Harris had been operating the restaurant as receiver following a $305,138 court judgment granted to the Ohio University Credit Union against Lady Hawke.

The idea had been that Harris would continue to operate the restaurant while he searched for a buyer, but he shut it down because there were not enough customers.Last week, Harris filed a second receiver’s report with the court which outlines two deals he had made to sell the restaurant, but which fell through.

According to the report, in early 2014 an operator of IHOP restaurants had entered into a letter of intent to buy the restaurant and its contents for $450,000. There were two conditions, one of them being that the receiver get the court’s permission to sell the assets free and clear of liens. A dispute arose with other creditors, but it was worked out in mediation and an agreement was reached for distribution of the proceeds after the sale, the report states.

The other condition was that arrangements be made for a ground lease from Athens Center LLC. According to the receiver’s report, the deal fell through because agreement could not be reached on the ground lease.

However, soon afterward another buyer was found, identified in the report as a Japanese hibachi grill proprietor. That deal also fell through because terms could not be reached on a ground lease, according to the report.

The lease situation is complicated by the fact that the lease payments have been in arrears — the report estimates by nearly $100,000, plus more than $40,000 in claimed attorney fees.

Last week, Lang lifted an injunction that had prevented Athens Center LLC from taking action against Lady Hawke because of unpaid lease amounts. According to Lang’s court order, the lease is in default because the receiver failed to make the payments. According to the receiver’s report, the OU Credit Union opted in 2013 not to make the payments.

In the March 16 ruling, Lang ordered Lady Hawk to give “possession of the leased premises” to Athens Center LLC, but gave the OU Credit Union five business days to “cure the monetary default.” A spokeswoman for the credit union declined to comment Monday on whether the credit union had taken that action. She said the litigation is ongoing and the credit union woud not comment beyond what is in the public record.

Besides the credit union, other creditors include Athens County’s revolving loan fund and Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District, both of whom helped fund Lady Hawke’s purchase of the restaurant. Athens County’s revolving loan fund loaned $230,000 and Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District loaned $100,000.