More behind Bourbon Street (Staccato’s closing)

The other day when writing about Staccato closing downtown, I mentioned that regarding the slated new tenant of the space, Bourbon Street Bend, there had to have been advance warning that the closure was coming, despite the official version of the story that Staccato was only notified last Wednesday that their lease would not be renewed. Yet with Bourbon Street’s coupon already printed up and mailed out before that announcement, it certainly smells fishy.

The Bulletin today has an article about Bourbon Street, which is Gavin McMichael’s  new endeavor (he’s also the owner of the Blacksmith), and while the article mentions that the new restaurant will open on July 15th and that he plans to give former Staccato employees “first crack” at Bourbon Street roles, there’s nothing overtly fishy about it until the last paragraph:

McMichael said he is the managing partner of a group of four investors who have signed a 10-year lease on the space with Acadia Properties LLC, the operating manager of the space’s landlord, Firehall Partners LLC. He emphasized that he was not involved with Acadia’s decision to terminate Staccato’s lease for the site, which is located on Minnesota Avenue across from The Oxford Hotel.

(Emphasis added.)

Not involved with the termination decision—however… over on Oregon’s Business Name Search site, here’s the result of searching for “Bourbon Street Bend”: it turns out that the name itself (“Bourbon Street Bend, LLC”) was registered as an entity back on May 3rd—a month and a half before Staccato was told their lease wouldn’t be renewed.

That certainly sounds like he (and the Staccato landlords) knew that this was coming, which implies some level of involvement in the termination decision. And likely the decision goes back earlier than May 3rd, since registering a business isn’t something that happens in a vacuum, either—there had to have been some planning behind it at the very least. When was this 10-year lease signed?

(In fact, the “bourbonstreetbend.com” domain name was registered on April 20th.)

Like I’d said—downtown shenanigans, which sucks all the more because Staccato—which was doing well on its own—suffered for it. What do you all think?

21 thoughts on “More behind Bourbon Street (Staccato’s closing)

  1. Someone voiced that perhaps Staccato knew, but opted not to inform further in advance of their closure because of the risk of losing employees. This was just wondering out loud but still… they should have started the process to renew their lease long before the notification right? If I was a business owner and my lease was coming up and I hadn’t heard from my landlord I think I’d be concerned…

  2. On the other hand, I believe the paper mentioned that Staccato had gotten some lease easing, and was asking for more…that’s my memory of it.

    So, if the landlord can get a better rate, and Staccato has already informed him that they can’t or won’t pay, it’s his right to sign up a new business.

    Don’t know if that’s how it worked out.

  3. Jon, I think you may be getting ahead of yourself on this one. Just because the business name / domain name were registered months ago doesn’t mean the location was known. It’s not unreasonable for a new business pick a name and register it well in advance of securing their physical space. So… I don’t see this as an indication of foul play.

  4. I don’t think anyone’s saying it’s “foul play”, but more closely related to shenanigans. Obviously, it’s the owner’s prerogative to lease to whomever they please, and making more money makes sense.

    That said, I think McMichael had an idea for a new restaurant, figured out he liked the Staccato location, and went about procuring it.

    Not illegal, just sleazy.

  5. Robert, what do you think the advertising deadline was for the “Smart Shopper” coupon in which the address was printed?

    Deadlines are weeks, if not months, in advance.

  6. You don’t plan on opening a restaurant without knowing your space and what it will allow in terms of equipment / dining capacity / floor plans. This is incredibly important in terms of a business plan and forecasting your revenues. Just saying…

    We had to flip our planned restaurant concept when we found our property, and changed our entire restaurant theme because of the building and its limitations.

    A limousine won’t fit in a carport, just as a moped looks out of place in a 3-car garage.

    Big ideas + small space = failure.
    Small ideas + big space = failure.

    And as my mom beat into my brain: “Own the dirt” so you don’t have to deal with landlord shenanigans.

    Lastly, a 10-year lease is a mighty bright badge of confidence, I’d say, for a rental agreement that was thrown together in a matter of days.

  7. This is America, where a landlord has the right to lease to whomever he wishes. I don’t think that you should punish the new business for finding a space and outbidding the current tenant for it. That’s just how it works.

    Also, the old tenant did the right thing by not telling everyone that things they were going out of business. Why torpedo your income months before it was going to stop anyway?

    Sure it’s tough on the employees, but it’s tough on the owner too, and he/she/they are the ones with the most risk.

    Why is everyone so down on business owners these days? If it wasn’t for owners, there would be no jobs! Don’t people realize that this nation is wealthy because of business ownership and innovation and the risks involved with that?

  8. Why all the accusation of dirty dealings? It’s my understanding that the owner of Staccato was in serious arrears on rent payments and other debt with the landlord. If that is true, than this wouldn’t be about rental rates but rent payment. If you aren’t paying your rent, I suppose it is easy to keep the doors open with the illusion that your business is healthy.

    At some point the landlord is going to need a tenant that can pay the rent and work off debt at the same time. Otherwise, the landlord is in the restaurant business and not real estate. If you wanted to fire an employee, would it be unfair or unheard of to start interviewing replacements before you made a final decision to cut your losses?

    It’s also my understanding that the owner and head chef have been absent in the restaurant for quite some time while still paying themselves handsome salaries. That’s just irresponsible.

  9. How do you steal a lease? If you have a lease someone cannot simply take it. That is why you have a lease. Now if, the tenant has not been paying their lease, and demonstrated they cannot pay, the landlord is going to look for someone who can. The article said she had been trying to renogotiate the lease for 18 months. Apparently, she was nearly 100k behind in her rent, and the landlord even loaned her money. When she was not able to pay, they started looking into other possible tenants. I know of two other restauranteurs that were contacted several months ago to see if they were interested. They were asked to come up with “ideas” for the space. The landlord wanted to see about options after being held hostage by the tenant and their debt.
    Would you keep a renter that repeatedly did not pay, or find one that could?

  10. To jen and wife

    Also I know from my other restaurant friends that it was not a case of a lease ending, it was a case of not paying the lease for 22 months. Your wife clearly has never been in business, or they would realize how dumb it is to think that a third party could get someone kicked out of their lease.

    Also, I have a friend that was a Sous Chef for Staccato’s a year ago, and he told me that Susan(the owner of Staccato’s) had told all the employees that they may have to declare bankruptcy. And he said they would disapear from the restaurant for long stretches of time, leaving the staff to”just figure it out”. And apparently, started taking a share of the staff tips to pay bills.

    It sounds as if they should have found a way out of it a long time ago, and maybe things would not have ended in such an abrupt way for the staff.

    1. @Curious: Sorry about that– I was away from the computer most of the day yesterday and only just saw the comments needing moderation this morning. I don’t mind publishing most any comments– in fact I like the differing opinions, it gets people thinking and talking.

  11. Good points, “Curious” and Sean, much more information here than I’ve seen elsewhere. If Staccato was that far in arrears, then the landlord was more than accommodating in waiting so long to find another tenant.

    If this is the case, I’m very happy for them to be able to find a solid tenant that will most likely be able to uphold their part of the agreement.

    However, “Curious”, that was a low blow to Jon’s wife in regards to her not understanding the restaurant biz. It’s one thing to point out someone’s error, another to flaunt your expertise in their face. Say, like, if someone were to point out your ignorance of how a personal blog is run, and why sometimes moderators take more than a few hours to approve a comment, hmmmm?

  12. Why thank you @Ducatisti, @curious obviously wanted instant satisfaction for a snarky/attacking comment.

    @curious, You do not know me nor what my experience is or isn’t. My comments were based on my OPINION as a consumer and I said so based on what little to no information was coming out at the time and I believe I said that I believe there to be more that is not coming out whatever that may be.

    If you must know, I have worked in restaurants many years ago and I do have a more of a business background than you think and my comments (whether it be on this issue or another) come both from my business and consumer perspective. However, this is not about me.

    Of course, if you do not pay your bills (in any form; house, car, credit cards, business) then of course, there are consequences.

    I did not need to respond, but I wanted to because there are no need for attacks, as my opinion is just that…my opinion based upon my own life experiences on what information is known at the time on a certain subject.

    Jon is very fortunate to be able to keep up on his blog and moderation of comments to keep the discussions flowing, even though I know just how busy and very little time he has right now.

  13. the first attack was made when speculating about dirty dealings by the new tenant. based on what? the owner of this blog and/or his wife could be seen as having a bias against mcmichael/blacksmith, or bias for Staccato. i’m not sure which, but all the posting and tweets about karma seems to be based on some previously held opinion or suspicion of mcmichael’s motivation. where’s the beef?

    Curious certainly shouldn’t attack or claim to know anything about your wife’s business knowledge or experience, but there are some big leaps of speculation being made here that don’t seem to be based on any knowledge of the transactional facts, unless you know something about the parties or the deal that is not being shared here. ?

    Jon, did u call/email the owner of staccato and blacksmith before writing this story to get comments/background? just wondering.

    1. No, I did not call or email either party for comment; the gist of my thinking for the post was this:

      * The Bourbon Street coupon was printed and distributed before the closure of Staccato was announced, which seemed highly irregular and like a red flag;
      * In the Bulletin’s article on Bourbon Street I took some exception with the claim of the last paragraph in light of the pre-printed coupon;
      * I looked at the bits of business info online which seem to have been instigated well in advance of what was thus far presented as the “official” story.

      Of course, it smelled fishy to me, but this was simply my own opinion, and I certainly don’t know the ins and outs of the restaurant biz, nor do I know the various behind-the-scenes goings-on of the Downtown dynamics.

      To be fair, I have no idea of the story behind Staccato’s business (other than what is being posted here anonymously, which should be taken with a grain of salt for exactly the reason my own post should be as well), and I haven’t read the Sunday Bulletin’s story on it yet, so it’s entirely possible I’m off the reservation on this one. It happens, I’m not perfect by any means. 🙂

      No bias on my part towards the Blacksmith; I rather like their bar and think they’ve done a really good job with it. I post things I find interesting and that I think deserve some notice and discussion.

  14. Dear Hack Bend,

    Your comments here have spawned a debate that is all speculation. The facts we can find elsewhere, in the Bulletin, for instance. Why would Staccato broadcast their inability to pay rent? Why would the landlord announce Staccato’s undoing months in advance? Why WOULDN’T a potential new restaurant do some early marketing footwork?

    Your intial post is a naive attempt to dig up dirt on what sounds like a personal vendetta against a successful restaurant owner. For the same reasons that you dislike Gavin, I ADMIRE him: he is a go-getter! And that’s a rare quality in this town of adults who’d rather ‘play’ than ‘work’.

    The truth is, Bourbon Street will open and be successful. It will also employ more people than Staccato could, becuase it will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, according to an announcement at Bite of Bend.

    Finally, Jon and (his/Your) Wife have an ethical obligation as a news source in a small town to report on the facts in an unbaised way. Let the people discuss what they may, but if you want to be a readable source of information that we can trust, attempting to thwart the promise of a potentially successful new business will not earn you readers for much longer.

    1. Dude, this is a blog not a news site. It’s Jon’s space to post his opinion and/or speculation. If you want news then go to bendbulletin.com or ktvz.com.

      This is (hopefully) more like a coffee shop – a place to share information and perhaps engage in some friendly debate. Which Jon invites and encourages by writing things like “What do you all think?” at the end of posts. It’s more fun when people keep things civil, but sometimes more interesting when they don’t…

      Which is why “Your wife” and I pretty much agree to disagree about a lot. But it’s all good. Right?

      🙂

  15. Fact is, the owner of Staccato (Susan) forced the Leasing party to seek out an “able to pay rent customer”. Susan did this by thinking that Staccato was the best option & the only option that the leasing party had. Therefore, she miscalculated Staccato’s scope of power and attempted to dictate the amount of rent she should have to pay. This would not work in any landlord/tenant relationship. Believe me when I say that Susan ruled Staccato in the same manner a tyrant would have. Stealing employee tips, creating rules and “company policies” out of thin air in order to distribute money into her pockets, and forcing employees to pay for mistakes that were tech. related. This comes from a very reliable source who had worked for Susan.

    Sticking to more facts here. When Susan was presented with a very large, very detailed stack of papers from the landlord & their attorney’s months prior to Staccato’s last day of service, she irresponsibly set them aside not giving them the time of day. These documents explicitly asked Susan to come up with a better business plan that would be able to pay the bills, and potentially pay back the thousands of dollars owed through a very forgiving loan. Needless to say when Susan finally looked at these documents the wave of panic that must have hit her would have been hard, because she had a chance to rescue her business, but she was late acting on that chance by 8/9 months.

    Furthermore, (I am letting you folks know all about it here) Susan passed off the responsibility of running the restaurant to her staff, excluding James (Head Chef/boyfriend). Neither James or Susan had a role in the day to day operations of Staccato for 10-12 months. These duties were forced upon key members of Staccato’s staff who accepted because of a very strong working bond between each of them. Anybody who has eaten at Staccato’s during the last year can attest to the outstanding job these employee’s did. The food was always great and the service was beyond exceptional. The only thing missing was a business owner, because the one they had could have been a tyrant and possibly a crook.

  16. Jon & Wife –

    I understand your sincerity in wanting to provide a great resource to Bend for happenings around town, but as this thread demonstrates, you guys are not journalists, but rather “citizen updaters.” When you pour out a story without the minimal kind of fact checking a reporter would do (i.e. interviewing the main parties being written about), what you end up with is a rumor blog, and that’s fine if that is what your intentions are, but from what I can see in this story, no real good was served. Is it that important to know what an utter failure someone was and all the messy details? I suppose it was necessary after dragging Mcmichael through the dirt to balance things out by dragging Susan through the dirt.

    How about dragging yourself and your facts through the dirt before getting into borderline libel? You really shouldn’t report on thing like this unless you are attempting to adhere to some standard of journalistic ethics. Otherwise, you are just a re-pressurizing station for the Bend rumor mill. Next time, just call the damn owners. You might be surprised.

  17. Just what bend needs,another place to eat, that is overpriced and has it’s nose in the air.I would be very worried about the new partners just because they have no clue about the food industry and working with a very touchy bunch of people.Running a heating and cooling place is alot diffrent than a restraunt,Staff won’t take her lying to them like she does at her other place. Be careful new workers.

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