One man’s loss, another’s gain
DILLON – Heather Newman and Chris Lee have searched for a restaurant to buy since they moved to Summit County in January. It looked like the venture would cost $350,000 to $400,000 – until Tuesday afternoon.At 11 a.m. Tuesday, approximately 50 people turned out for an auction of all of Maxwell Street Grill & Pizzeria’s inventory. The Colorado Department of Revenue hired “Buster” Cattles Auctioneer from Grand Junction to sell off the Chicago-style restaurant’s equipment – right down to the straws, toilet paper and sugar packets. Newman and Lee walked out paying $33,000 for everything – from the liquor supply to the cooler, ovens, booths, pictures, light fixtures and big-screen televisions.
The auction came after the Colorado Department of Revenue seized the property April 12 for a sales tax delinquency of $29,916, from October to March sales. Bruce Perry originally owned Maxwell’s, but in February, 2006, Erik Nielsen applied for the bar’s liquor license. The town of Dillon’s records state the ownership as Maxwell St. B & G, which county clerk Jan Thomas said should only be Nielsen. Nielsen could not be reached for comment before press time.The auction took place in two phases. First, people bid on the “bulk” – everything in the restaurant. The auctioneer began at $40,000, and no one bit. He went down to $30,000, then $25,000. Finally, someone raised their card at $15,000. A couple bids took it up to $27,500. Newman and Lee had the highest bid, but they could lose the deal if the second phase of the auction – which sold every item piece by piece – earned more than their bulk bid. So the pair increased its bid to $33,000, and then they waited.Energy increased as bidding moved onto kitchen equipment; most people showed up to pick up bargains. Vail restaurateur Scott Bucy opened a bid with $500 for an 80-quart mixer, went up to $2,000 and stopped bidding when another man won it for $100 more. He knew the mixer would cost $3,000 in Denver but said it was worth paying the extra $1,000 to avoid the hassle of retrieving the machine from Maxwell’s within the 48-hour time frame.
Meanwhile, non-restaurant owners waited by the bar. A man won a bid on a big-screen television for $225 – about 10 times less than its original cost.”Everything’s really selling low now,” said Kelly Webber, as she waited for the liquor auction.
Even the auctioneer commented on how quiet it was. He expected the auction to take three or four hours, but he stopped just short of two hours, at 12:48 p.m., after people had bid on the majority of high-ticket items, which only garnered $9,000 – a far cry from $33,000.Many walked away disappointed, but Lee and Newman stepped closer to their dream of opening a restaurant, which they hope will remain in the Dillon location.”It will take a lot of cleaning and a face lift – a lot of paint – but it’s a lot less (than other restaurants we’ve looked at),” Newman said.
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