Johnny Carino’s shut down

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office evicted a popular Grand Junction Italian restaurant Monday after it allegedly failed to pay two months rent, according to court records.

Kona Restaurant Group of Texas, owner and operator of Johnny Carino’s, 2480 U.S. Highway 6&50, was ordered to surrender possession of the restaurant Feb. 8. When it failed to do so, sheriff’s deputies executed the order Monday.

A notice posted on the door warns people to stay out of the restaurant and refrain from removing any property.

The landlord, Wilmington Center of Beverly Hills, Calif., claims Carino’s owes back rent — about $42,000 at the time Mesa County District Judge Valerie Robison ordered it to surrender possession.

The rent accrues at roughly $21,000 per month until a new tenant is located or a final judgment is entered.

The landlord’s lawsuit against Carino’s seeks monetary damages in addition to possession of the premises.

Wilmington Center claims it also is owed lost future rents and payment of utilities, taxes and insurance for the restaurant. It is asking for court costs, attorneys fees and interest on outstanding amounts, according to the landlord’s complaint.

In commercial real estate, Carino’s lease was known as a triple net lease, which means the restaurant was obligated to pay all rent, property taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs and assessments. 

The parking lot at Carino’s was empty and its doors were locked Monday with a notice posted to inform people the restaurant was shut down for nonpayment of rent.

Kona, a Delaware corporation, operated the property as Johnny Carino’s since at least September 2007, according to court records. Carino’s opened in Grand Junction more than a decade ago.

The landlord named a second defendant, Fired Up Inc., alleging it signed Carino’s lease as guarantor. If that’s true, Fired Up also would be liable for all amounts due.

At one time, both Kona and Fired Up were under the control of Brian Kelly, who signed the lease as assistant treasurer of Kona and vice president and controller of Fired Up.

Neither Kona nor Fired Up answered Wilmington’s lawsuit and a default judgment was entered against them.

The landlord acquired the restaurant property in 2010 from the Buford O. Finck Family Trust.

Calls to Carino’s and Kona were not immediately returned Monday.

An email reportedly sent to members of Johnny Carino’s promotions club said: “To the community of Grand Junction: Johnny Carino’s has been tirelessly working with our landlord to work with us on our building lease. Because of not being able to reach an agreement, the landlord has forced us to vacate the building as of Monday, February 24.

“We are sorry and we will miss our friends and guests in this great community. We are hoping to find another location soon.”


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Sure am glad everything is okay with the economy in Grand Junction.

This is not some mom and pop restaurant, but a national chain that is struggling to make ends meet here in the Valley. It will only get worse as the I-25 corridor keeps up its war on Rural Colorado.

Who needs those jobs from mining and oil and gas. We can all work a tour leaders when the Monument becomes a National Park!

Kevin, your logic escapes me. A restaurant has financial problems and you blame it on a war on Rural Colorado? Did you know that restaurants fail whether the economy is good or bad? The failure of a local restaurant has nothing to do with any imaginary war on rural Colorado, but may have something to do with the reluctance of most financial institutions to finance restaurant businesses.

Carinos closed three other locations only a few months ago:

Although I know Kevin and others love to follow the stale breadcrumbs of the oil and gas industry “leaving” our area, please remember that it’s going gangbusters on the Eastern Slope. Same state, same regs, same everything - except there’s just a lot more O&G that can be extracted easier and cheaper. I think the much bigger issue is: $21,000 A MONTH FOR RENT FOR A RESTAURANT??????? $250,000 A YEAR????? Now, THAT’S a story, Mr. Ruland.

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