Thursday, March 24, 2011

Main Street Inn Fails to Sell at Auction

Contents Sell for $5,000 to one owner

By Seann McAnally
Main Street Inn does not have a new owner, despite a public March 16 auction of the property. 

The Internal Revenue Service seized the once-famous family restaurant and gift shop when the current owner, Shawn Sanders, defaulted on state and federal taxes. 

The minimum bid for the restaurant real estate was $12,500 – but there were no takers. 

“Folks, I’ve never seen this happen before,” said IRS auctioneer Robert Brown. He opined the tax lien on the property – some $140,000 – kept buyers from bidding, because they would have been responsible for those back taxes in addition to the minimum bid. 

But the contents of the restaurant were quickly auctioned off to a single bidder. 

“We just came up for fun and bought the whole thing,” said Ernie Timbrook. He and his business partner, Jim Wolters, are hot air balloonists from California, MO. They bid $5,000 for everything in the restaurant – all the fixtures, furniture, kitchen equipment, and dozens of bins of toys and collectibles from the old Main Street Inn gift shop. It was the collectibles that drew Timbrook to the auction. 

“I buy and sell stuff on Ebay on the side,” Timbrook said. Minutes after his successful bid, hopeful auction-goers crowded around him making offers for individual pieces of merchandise as Wolton handed cash to IRS agents.
“I need to think this through,” Timbrook told the crowd. “Just give me your numbers and what you’re interested in and we’ll work something out.” 

Some of those people had already made bids on equipment in the restaurant. But because no one bought the real estate, the rest had to be sold for “one money,” as Brown put it. That is, if the real estate had sold, the IRS could have parceled up the rest of the items and sold them piecemeal. Without a real estate sale, the restaurant’s contents were an all-or-nothing deal. 

Liane Dobbins, a former cook at the restaurant, said she was disappointed. She’d bid on an antique gas stove, two smokers, and some other kitchen equipment. But when the real estate failed to sell, her bids were void. 

“It’s all going for a lot less than it’s actually worth,” she said, adding that it was too bad no one bought the real estate itself. 

“I was really hoping someone would buy this place and reopen it,” Dobbins said. “It was a hopping place once…there are a lot of great memories here. I’m trying not to cry.” 

The real estate now reverts to Sanders and his mortgage holders, and will remain – for the time being, at least – a vacant storefront. 

Jan Martinette, former mayor, alderman and state representative, said the closed restaurant was a “shame.”

“I hoped we’d have something nice here,” she said. “This is just a sign of the times.”

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