There have been long-simmering tensions between the owners of Jack Gage American Tavern and Gregory McGee Company LLC, the owner of the building at 5031 Main, including lawsuits. So it was probably only a matter of time before the restaurant would be closed. The question was ... when?
Last Friday, the shoe dropped, and a "closed" sign was taped to the door. The sign directed patrons to the restaurant's website that, as of today, has no information on it about the closing. The phone has not been disconnected, but no one answers. Business owners across the street watched movers haul out the contents of the restaurant on Friday and Saturday.
"They took out everything that wasn't nailed to the ground," says Nancy Pell, the owner of Perfect Scents at 5010 Main. "Tables, chairs, pots and pans, everything. The place is completely empty."
Pell says she was also told that employees hadn't been paid for weeks. Several angry employees showed up at the restaurant on Saturday, according to Chelle Navarro, who saw two Jack Gage employees "yelling at [owner] Russ Hurst as he sat in his truck," she says. Navarro, who works across the street at Accurso's Italian Restaurant, is the mother of Sean Wright, a Jack Gage kitchen staffer.
"He got his last check paid, but there was no money in the payroll account, so he knows several employees who had checks that bounced. Sean is still owed money for his last week. That's why he finally called the chef, Richard McPeake, and said he wouldn't come back to the restaurant."
Fat City reported in February that
Jack Gage owner Blair Hurst and his father, Russ -- who closed the Baja
600 cantina on the Country Club Plaza in August 2010 after falling
behind on rent payments -- owed a
considerable sum in back rent to the owners of 5031 Main. Shortly
after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Blair Hurst insisted
that the restaurant would remain open: "We have events and parties
booked through the end of the year."
That was clearly wishful thinking.