Viva la France! Le Petit Paris reopens |

Viva la France! Le Petit Paris reopens

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE ” The wine will flow once again at Le Petit Paris in Breckenridge, as a local couple partnered with the owner to relieve the government-seized restaurant from its tax burdens.

“God bless the people of Breckenridge. They gave me back my life,” said restaurant owner Arielle Coutouzis.

The authentic French restaurant officially re-opens tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Town resident Barbara Calvin said the restaurant is “far better” than any other in Summit County.

“We were pretty devastated when we saw that it was closed,” Calvin said. “The cuisine at La Petit Paris is definitely excellent, and it just merited being saved.”

After the restaurant closed, Calvin saw Coutouzis on the street. Barbara and her husband, Jim, worked out a partnership with the restaurant and provided finances to clear the debt.

“As soon as we saw it closed, our intention was to find them and help them,” Calvin said.

The Colorado Department of Revenue seized Le Petit Paris in July after it had accrued about $17,000 in unpaid sales and withholding taxes.

Having opened in February of 2007, the restaurant fell behind on payments almost immediately and made no sales tax filings since January.

But the Calvins are only part of the events leading to the restaurant’s re-opening. The other stroke of luck came through a dispute between the equipment lessor and the Department of Revenue.

When the restaurant was seized, the government had planned to auction off about $16,000 worth of equipment on lease from Sanford’s Used Restaurant Equipment of Fairplay.

A legal skirmish between Sanford’s and the state ensued, as the company hired an attorney to save its leased property.

This stalled the termination of Le Petit Paris, providing enough time for Coutouzis and the Calvins to get organized.

Nancy Peters, who owns the equipment company, said the suit against the state is en route toward dismissal.

“It’s not formally finished. We’ve got a few more steps to go,” Peters said.

The equipment remains at the restaurant, and a new lease is under way. She said the restaurant is current on all its financial responsibilities on the equipment.

Peters also said it was nice the equipment issue gave Le Petit Paris “some extra time,” which allowed the situation to work out as it did.

As part of the lease, the restaurant will be required to pay the legal fees incurred, and a payment has already been made, Peters said.

“There’s every indication that this will come out well,” she said. “As far as Sanford’s is concerned, we just ” we’re opposed to having the state steal our equipment.”

As for the restaurant’s future, Coutouzis said she intends to keep up with the taxes.

“These people in Breckenridge are really, really amazing,” she said. “They saw us on the street. They said: ‘My gosh, they killed Breckenridge’s soul.’ It’s not only the food. It’s something else.”

While the restaurant was closed, Coutouzis worked as floor manager at the Briar Rose restaurant.

The building was released from seizure Monday, she said. Coutouzis and her family have since been preparing for tonight’s re-opening, which will include accordion music and a speech at 7 p.m.

Coutouzis said these folks also provided support toward the restaurant’s revitalization: Janet Roberts, the Nelson family, the Swiss Haven Restaurant, Sally Alice and others.

“It’s a love story from the beginning to now,” Coutouzis said. “It’s a big love story between them and us.”

The restaurant at 161 E. Adams Ave. is scheduled to be open daily from 5:30 p.m.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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