Yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas, Silveroak Holdings, Ltd. -- better known as Bob's Steak & Chop House -- filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. Bob Sambol and his attorney, Mark Ralston, say the bankruptcy filing has nothing to do with Lee Thompson's claim that Sambol owes him $300,000 -- a claim that, in March, resulted in a criminal case being filed against Sambol by the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. Rather, Sambol and Ralston tell Unfair Park this morning, the filing is the result of a failed Bob's Steak & Chop House in Denver, which opened to decent reviews in 2005 but shuttered not long afterward. As the Denver Post put it last year, when referring to another steakhouse that closed in the same spot, Bob's "featured a giant glazed carrot with your meal. Denver shrugged."
Says Sambol, "When we opened in Denver, I took a beating." And it only got worse: While he no longer had the restaurant, he still had the building -- and the lease, which he's been paying ever since. Both Sambol and Ralston say the resulting debt is now close to $1.9 million, with $380,000 of that owed to Fort Worth-based Frost Bank. (The entire 24-page bankruptcy filing, with a list of 20 creditors holding the largest unsecured claims, can be found after the jump. Ralston says a more detailed pleading will be filed later today; we will update accordingly.)
"Bob has been carrying that debt burden for the last five years and it became insurmountable to continue to pay expenses on the Denver debt and the Dallas restaurant," Ralston says. "The restaurant needed to continue as an ongoing concern and needed to restructure its debt."
Indeed, the Lemmon Avenue location -- the only one with which Sambol is associated -- will keep its doors open during the bankruptcy process. Says Sambol, "It's business as usual." Which, lately, ain't what it used to mean.
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When you read the filing, you'll see Lee Thompson's name listed among those to whom Sambol owes money -- $300,000, just as Thompson claimed earlier this year. Sambol acknowledges that he's listed as a creditor "because that money did go into the restaurant," which he'd acknowledged in March. As for how that case is proceeding, Sambol says, "My attorney's handling it."
But the Denver debt, Sambol and Ralston says, has become crippling; hence, Tuesday's filing.
"Coupled with the economy, I couldn't go on that way," Sambol says. "The restaurant is still profitable and doing business after 15 years, and I hope we'll continue on, and I hope this is something we can work out." Sambol says business is "down about 20 percent year to date," and that "it is what it is." Meaning: "We've catered to the business man for 15 years, and he isn't drinking and eating like he was. It's business as usual, and we hope to get through this."
To which Ralston adds, the filing "should, in fact, improve the ability to operate the restaurant."