Located on a cozy exit in the hills off Interstate 70 in Evergreen, El Rancho Brewing Company will be a tranquil place for tourists and locals alike to enjoy food and craft beer. I am aiming for
But behind the scenes, the latest addition to a restaurant that has been in business for 75 years, the business is in chaos, with lawsuits over unpaid debts and wages and claims of broken promises.
And now the owner of El Rancho, who manages both the business and its estate, is making a mad dash to break the clock.
Two story, 21,900 square foot building on 4.4 acres on 29260 Hwy. 40, was put up for sale last week. No list price was given, but the deadline for bidding is his September 6th. It’s just a few weeks before the upcoming foreclosure sale.
“As my lawyer says, we are at rock bottom here. So if you want to survive financially, you can’t be terribly picky. and property.
Current owner has been running the business since 2015
According to Westword, the El Rancho building was completed in 1947 and opened as an eatery the following year. The restaurant was purchased by Mildred and Ray Ziprich from Milwaukee in 1953, and the family ran the store until 1988, when they sold it.
In May 2015, records show that six members of the Vincent family (three brothers and their wives) bought the property for $1.2 million. A multi-million dollar renovation was completed just before the restaurant opened in December.
The business closed abruptly in April and reopened last month.
Records show that the Vincents took out a $1.5 million loan from FirstBank when they purchased the property. Since then, about $200,000 of that mortgage has been paid off in his seven years.
FirstBank filed a motion for foreclosure on July 12, public records show.
However, a foreclosure sale may be avoided if someone purchases the property in advance. That’s why Hilco Real Estate sells real estate.
“There is always the possibility that someone will scrape the entire site and develop something completely different,” said Hilco broker Steve Madura.
lawsuits and accusations
The first lawsuit against Vincent came from a friend. Kurt Prunty had loaned him $215,000 in his two installments in 2015 and his 2016. The lawsuit was settled out of court in early 2019.
Vincent said he stepped up his relationship with El Rancho in 2017 to help his brother and his wives with difficult surgeries. Over time, he said, he and his wife became the main operators on site as the rest of the family moved or moved away from their routine duties.
Vincent admits the business was poorly managed financially, with debt and unpaid taxes piling up over time. But he says it’s not his fault.
Instead, Vincent places the blame on a man named Glenn Fountain. He says he brought in as an “independent consultant” to turn the business around in the summer of 2020.
“His job was basically general manager, managing all the money, finances, business and making things work,” Vincent said.
Vincent says that Fountain was known in the community for turning businesses around, but none of his supposed good bookkeeping came up to El Rancho.
“From day one, he under-reported our sales tax by about 70%. I did,” said Vincent.
But Fountain, contacted by BusinessDen, serves on the board of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce and owns the Evergreen Deli at 3881 Evergreen Parkway, but Vincent misunderstands his responsibilities. said.
“He was responsible for tax, excise and other filings,” Fountain said. “What was reported was the information he gave me to report, which he filed in that month either because he was out of town or because I was asked to handle it. Only if it was me.”
Fountain shared an excerpt of the contract he and Vincent signed. In it, Vincent is listed as the person responsible for managing the business’s financial accounts. According to the excerpt, Fountain’s role was to oversee day-to-day operations.
In late 2020, a social media and PR agency sued El Rancho for three months of unpaid work. The following year, a food vendor sued the restaurant for not paying for the food he delivered.
El Rancho Unravels, Shuts Down, Reopens Again
Fountain said another part of the original contract, which it did not share with BusinessDen, said it would eventually have the right to take a stake in the restaurant.
Last year, Fountain approached Vincent about buying the business. Vincent declined, so Fountain demanded his share instead. He believed Vincent owned the majority of the company. The contract he signed referred to Vincent as the “controlling shareholder.”
“I had a lawyer involved in this process and found that Paul was not a 100% owner, but a 15.7% owner, so he could not tell me the ownership,” Fountain said. said. “We found that Paul failed to disclose all of the company’s liabilities, including overdue state and property taxes for 2018 and 2019.”
Fountain said he never received stock in the company. He said the restaurant was out of business in late April, just before it lost staff and closed abruptly.
Vincent said the last salary for the business was not paid. Two employees subsequently filed a lawsuit for lost wages.
One of the two employees, Sedonna Johnson, blames Vincent.
“I’m glad I worked there. We all loved it. We’re all like family,” she said. “And a few hours before her next shift, one of the other bartender girlfriends texted me and said, ‘Hey, tomorrow is the last day.
“The owner, Paul Vincent, then decided to keep all of our paychecks and keep all of our credit card chips to himself,” Johnson added.
She is suing for $7,500 in lost wages.
“Everything was great because Glenn made something great. He’s the one who brought in the chef.
El Rancho has reopened with limited hours and menu. The details of the debacle remain somewhat vague, but it is certain that there is no love lost between Fountain and Vincent.
“Glenn was doing everything he could to devalue the company while maintaining sales. Buy for his investors and songs, you know, a penny for a dollar,” Vincent said.
Fountain said of Vincent, “You have a credit score of 500. You are 70. Your words are worth nothing. You lied to me in our contract.”