Landlord blames ‘aggressive’ negotiation over rent for Carino’s closing

Food, booze, dishware, flatware, tables and chairs for more than 230 people were just a few of the items that remained locked up at Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurant Wednesday waiting for someone to pick them up, building owner Frank Farzani said.

Kona Restaurant Group, an Austin, Texas, company that owns of the restaurant that used to be located at 2480 U.S. Highway 6&50, has yet to respond to Farzani’s offer to allow access so it can remove its personal property.

Carino’s was evicted from the property Monday for nonpayment of more than $40,000 in rent.

Kona failed to surrender possession of the restaurant before a deadline imposed by Mesa County District Court and was evicted by Mesa County Sheriff’s deputies on Monday, court records show.

Carino’s is also obligated to pay real property tax, according to the terms of its lease, but the Mesa County Treasurer’s Office reported the business owes only personal property tax of about $1,700 for 2013.

Farzani alleges he holds official records that show Carino’s owes $30,000 in real property tax for 2013.

County tax records do not support the contention. There were no county records concerning the restaurant’s status regarding real property tax, county officials said.

Should Kona fail to respond to Farzani’s offer and remove it, the food, furniture, kitchen equipment and other personal property will be donated to charity. An agent has already been hired to review donation options, Farzani said.

“I don’t care about that money,” he said.

What concerns Farzani are the “very aggressive negotiating tactics” Carino’s was using to pressure him into lowering the restaurant’s $21,000 per month rent.

Refusing to pay at least partial amounts during negotiations, as Carino’s did, is not a standard business practice, he said.

Farzani continues to be willing to negotiate a reduced rent that would make it possible for Carino’s to reopen, but attorneys for Carino’s are not communicating.

Farzani said he felt compelled to evict the restaurant because, he alleged, it continued to gross as much as $200,000 a month while occupying his building without paying rent.

According to William M. Kane, Farzani’s Beverly Hills, Calif., lawyer, Carino’s is represented by Texas bankruptcy attorney Barbara Barron, who did not immediately return a telephone message requesting comment Wednesday.

Carino’s is a nationwide restaurant chain. According to a story in the Oct. 29 Greeley Tribune, Carino’s restaurants in Greeley, Pueblo and Lakewood closed doors in October.

Johnny Carino’s restaurants remained open in Colorado Springs, Longmont, Loveland and Parker as of Wednesday.


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