By Rich Bockmann
The Rockaway Beach home of the nearly 20-year-old Irish Circle Tavern is on the auction block after its owner failed to make payments ordered by a bankruptcy court.
Massey Knakal Realty has been retained to market the two-story, 9,500-square-foot building at the corner of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 102nd Street that has been home to the Irish Circle since 1995.
The restaurant is a staple in the Rockaway community and it was not clear whether or not the business would remain after the building is sold off.
Tommy Lin, sales director in Massey Knakal’s Queens office, said the bar will have to work out a deal with the next owner.
“Whoever wins the property will have to negotiate a new lease,” he said.
The tavern and its building are owned under separate entities by restaurateur Jerry Perich, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 2013. Perich could not be immediately reached for comment.
The real estate side of the business, J Realty F Rockaway LTD., listed assets of $1.4 million and liabilities of $3.5 million, $3 million of which was owed to the company’s largest creditor, New York Commercial Bank.
In court documents the bank’s lawyer said the tavern had been in arrears on its $15,000-a-month rent for close to two years when the lender commenced a foreclosure action in November 2011.
It was the latest blow to the business that had suffered with the demise of Off-Track Betting in 2010. Perich had a bookmaking booth in his restaurant that was doing so well he renovated the dining room in 2002, but when OTB folded the tavern took a hit.
“As a result, the [tavern’s] business dropped significantly, although the [tavern] attempted to try to come up and get its revenues back up to normal, up to, you know, a reasonable level. It was unable to pay its expenses as they came due,” Kavneet Singh Sethi, Perich’s lawyer, said at a bankruptcy hearing in November, according to the transcript.
Perich at the time was dealing with the recession and an acrimonious split with his business partner, who sued to freeze the tavern’s revenues.
As of February the realty company was owed more than $282,000 in rent from the tavern as well as two residential and one commercial tenant in the building, according to the bank’s attorney.
The bankruptcy court in November ordered the realty company to begin making monthly payments of $9,271.88 to the bank and to pay off its water and property tax bills, but when the company came up short the court ordered the building put up for auction in February.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach) said he always enjoyed visiting the Irish Circle and hoped the ownership could find a way to stay in the community after the sale.
“I’ve been in there a considerable amount of time and it was always a good crowd,” he said. “I hope they can work something out to make sure they’re around for a long time to come.”
As of Wednesday, Massey Knakal said it had not taken anyone to tour the building, but it had received about three or four inquiries about the property. Bids are due April 17 in what is known as a 363 sale, in which a base price is set by a “stalking horse” bidder who receives up to 3 percent of the initial offer if he or she is outbid.
If no qualified bids are made, the bank will own the property and credit Perich’s realty business for $1.6 million.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.