Saturday, July 16, 2011

Varro: Paid Up? Or Shut Down?

AUGUST 5th UPDATE: Captiol Hill Blog says it's all over. RIP, farewell, ciao, bye-bye.

Couple of days ago, there was a document affixed to the door of Varro, a newish bar at 12th and Pike, demanding $20K and change in rent. It's known as "Three-Day Pay Rent or Vacate Notice," and not to be trifled with.

Thing is, aside from the eyebrow-raising $5,871 in monthly rent, there's also $550 for "amortized back rent," which strongly suggests that, um, the landlord was willing to cut the tenant some slack way back when and recover the missing payment(s) over time.

But wait. Varro's only been open since April. May was late, and June & July hadn't been paid. So it looks like the owners of Varro haven't ever paid rent, doesn't it?

Who are these guys? And what exactly are they up to? Capitol Hill Blog says Varro "was concepted as the first in a chain of lounges based on the Italian theme." That wold be the theme of neighborhood bars and caffès where you drop in before lunch for a latte and a cornetto, for an afternoon espresso and an early-evening aperitivo. Right, except that no neighborhood bar I've ever set foot in has a DJ turntable and mixing board next to the front door.

The owners are listed as Glenn Walker,Christopher Hurt and Josephine Baik. They're being advised by none other than Rich Troiani, longtime senior operating manager for the Mackay Restaurant Group, whose reward for faithful service was a restaurant named for him. (That was Troiani's, a shortlived downtown steakhouse that Mackay opened on the site of Flemings. The restaurant is gone, chef Walter Pisano returned to Tulio's, Troiani himself became an independent consultant, but the website lives on.) Why someone like Troiani would get involved is a mystery. How someone like Walker would get involved is less of a mystery; he once envisioned a sort of hospitality subscription service called White Tie that morphed into a moribund charitable foundation. At any rate, Walker has no restaurant experience, and it looks like no one ever told him that you gotta pay the landlord even if you don't have customers. Well, they did have some customres, and an active Facebook page. On the other hand, you can figure that any licensed eatery that sells Krug Grande Cuvée Brut for $285 is probably more of a bar than a restaurant.

Tonight there was a handwritten sign inside Varro that says that the rent's been paid and that the place will be open "tomorrow, Friday." This is being written on Saturday, and Varro is still closed. If the landlord wants to call the cops, East Precint is right across the street.

Meantime, the joint's for sale. $200K, apparently. Please send updates in the comments.

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