By Mark Basch
The owners of Nippers Beach Grille on the Intracoastal Waterway have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, in part due to the fallout from a well-publicized fatal shooting at the restaurant last year.
Court documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville say the restaurant saw a sales decline after Zachariah Tipton was shot and killed in the parking lot of the restaurant in June 2014. That led to financial difficulties for the business.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 24 after landlord Rose & Ken Inc. filed a lawsuit in Duval County Circuit Court to evict the business.
Nippers USA LLC said in its case management summary it is seeking to sell the restaurant at 2309 Beach Blvd. in Jacksonville Beach to a “specific purchaser” who will continue to operate the restaurant.
Restaurant manager Rudy Theale owns 87 percent of Nippers USA, according to court documents.
The documents say Nippers was experiencing financial problems since it opened in 2011 because it was “undercapitalized” at the start and had fallen behind in tax payments.
However, sales began to increase in 2014.
“This, coupled with successful repayment plans with the taxing authorities, led to a brief period of profitability,” they said.
Sales rose from $3.35 million in 2013 to $3.52 million in 2014, but sales began to fall after the shooting in mid-2014.
“After that tragic event involving much media coverage, sales began to decline. While sales have since increased over the past year, Nippers fell behind in its monthly obligations,” court documents said.
After the eviction lawsuit was filed last month, Nippers’ largest unsecured creditor, Capital for Merchants Inc., froze distribution of credit-card proceeds to the restaurant. Capital for Merchants was owed $260,490 at the time of the Chapter 11 filing.
Nippers has 104 employees, according to the case management summary.
Adina Pollan of Gillis Way Duncan & Campbell LLP is representing Nippers in the case, which was assigned to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Glenn.