Restaurants shut down practically everyday when they run out of money, loose business, or miscalculate how much they need to earn in order to pay the rent – or countless other reasons.
Experienced restaurateurs know that if they are going to shutter, they need to make an effort to pay off debts to suppliers, place employees in other jobs, and leave their property in good condition, since they will most likely want to open new accounts with their suppliers, lure good employees to a new project, and work with future landlords. That’s a lesson related by Tom Colicchio in Super Chef (p.185). He carefully managed the closure of his restaurant, Mondrian in 1990, offering creditors 50 cents on the dollar rather then letting the restaurant go into bankruptcy. That impressed his financial backer and when he was ready with a better deal downtown, he had financial backing for a new restaurant, and practically all his suppliers and former employees were interested in working with him again.
Evidently, that lesson was lost on Todd English. The Boston Globe reported that Todd’s Kingfish Hall restaurant in Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston was left in poor shape several weeks ago after it was shuttered.
General Growth Properties, which operated Faneuil Hall Marketplace until October, filed a lawsuit last week that accuses English of failing to pay more than $1 million in unpaid rent and other charges, despite a judgment entered against him more than a year ago in Boston Municipal Court. General Growth began eviction procedures earlier in 2011 after Kingfish Hall fell behind in rent.
Todd’s claim that he was in the middle of renovations and was sending a crew to clean up the mess, does not contradict the facts reported by the Globe:
Celebrity chef Todd English, who owes more than $1 million in back rent and other charges related to his Kingfish Hall restaurant, left the space with thousands of dollars in damage after shuttering the location at Faneuil Hall Marketplace several weeks ago.
Why didn’t Todd consider the negative publicity for not cleaning up before vacating the space, as well as inviting talk of lawsuits for not paying dues to a merchant’s association? Fighting back by tweeting really doesn’t deflect the negative buzz. Super Chefs should know better than this – especially one with Todd’s lengthy experience opening and closing restaurants. Whatever the truth is, attacking the press is not a good move.