by Ian Froeb
The acclaimed Central West End restaurant Salt (4356 Lindell Boulevard; 314-932-5787) on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Missouri. In its petition, a copy of which Gut Check has obtained, the restaurant claims to have debts of between $100,000 and $500,000 compared with assets of no more than $50,000.
Danielle A. Suberi of the Clayton law firm Desai Eggmann Mason filed the petition on behalf of American Larder LLC (Salt's corporate name). Gut Check was unable to reach Suberi for comment.
Salt was open as scheduled Monday evening.
Update: (Tuesday, November 20, 11:46 a.m.) Attempts to reach Salt today have so far been unsuccessful, as have attempts to reach C. Scott Brinkman, the attorney representing the restaurant in its suit against its landlord. (Brinkman's firm is listed among American Larder's creditors in the bankruptcy petition.)
Update #2: (Tuesday, November, 11:54 a.m.) We just heard from Salt co-owner Matt Obermark. "We have no change in hours," Obermark tells us. "We're operating as usual." Obermark adds that the restaurant, through its lawyer, will be releasing a more formal statement later today. More as we have it.
The petition lists a total of 52 creditors. It includes specific dollar amounts only for the twenty creditors to which American Larder owes the most money. These twenty debts alone total $301,596.26.
The petition lists a total of 52 creditors. It includes specific dollar amounts only for the twenty creditors to which American Larder owes the most money. Those amounts total $301,596.26. Among them are $75,436.27 to the IRS in withholding tax, $35,929.72 to the Missouri Department of Revenue in sales tax and $41,000 to Rewards Network Establishment Services, a Chicago firm. Other creditors include Bob's Seafood ($6,600), produce purveyor Sunfarm ($6,269.45), Ameren UE ($5,265.31) and liquor distributor Major Brands ($3,263.13).
Read the bankruptcy petition on the next page.
Salt opened in April 2011 to rave reviews, including from Riverfront Times, which named it 2011's "Best New Restaurant". In February, founding chef and co-owner Wes Johnson appeared on NBC's Today, and Salt was a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's "Best New Restaurant" award.
Johnson left Salt and its ownership group in May. In August, the restaurant's landlord, Ta Daa LLC, sued to evict Salt, stating that American Larder's failure to pay $51,025.97 in rent and late fees as grounds for terminating the lease. Salt had subsequently paid up, but Ta Daa proceeded with thesuit. A hearing on the case was scheduled for this morning but has been postponed.
More as we learn it. In the meantime, here is the petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that American Larder (Salt) filed: