By Danny Schrafel
The Thatched Cottage catering hall in Centerport and its property will be sold in a court-ordered bankruptcy auction next month.
Inspections and viewings for prospective bidders are scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 15 from 3-6 p.m., with the on-site auction set for Wednesday, Sept. 24 at noon. Registration will begin an hour earlier, according to a posting by Maltz Auctions, which is conducting the sale.
Thatched Cottage owner Ralph Colamussi on Friday blamed banks and the courts for “rushing” the business into bankruptcy.
“I put in reorganization and they took it away before the system of insurance happened. It’s happening now and they want to take it away,” he said. “They’re rushing me to lose everything. That’s my home – I lived there for almost 30 years… they wiped me of everything. There’s lots of money coming in from the government for help, but it’s too late and the court system will not wait.”
The auction comes after a federal bankruptcy court judge in July deemed the venue no longer viable and ordered its assets to be liquidated to meet outstanding debts.
Colamussi, who operated the catering business on Route 25A for 30 years, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, citing the cost of damages from Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy as factors. Colamussi tried to save his business by entering a partnership with Gino Scotto, operator of Westbury Manor catering hall. According to Colamussi, the plan would have seen all creditors paid in full.
The court had given Colamussi a June 30 deadline to secure financing, but when the deadline passed with none in place, the judge signed off on a court-appointed trustee’s plan to liquidate, and ordered that customers who had parties booked after the Oct. 6 closure date be notified immediately.
The combined pieces of land, including the circa 1920 cottage, was appraised for $10.5 million in 2014 – a $2-million increase from a 2010 appraisal - and had annual real estate tax bill in 2014 of $73,002.04.
“Parcel A” in the auction is the 1.1-acre property containing The Thatched Cottage, a 21,000 square-foot catering hall with seating for over 800, an outdoor patio and frontage on Mill Pond, according to the auction listing.
Meanwhile a second piece – “Parcel B” to bankruptcy auction bidders – is the 1.08 acre detached parking lot which is currently permitted by town code to be used as off-site parking for The Thatched Cottage.
The parcels can be purchased as a package or individually, according to the listing, and will be sold as-is, “free and clear of all liens, claims and encumbrances.” Bidders must present a cashier’s check for $250,000 to bid on the catering hall; $100,000 to bid on the vacant lot, or $350,000 to get in on both auctions.
Colamussi also owns Jellyfish restaurant next door to the Thatched Cottage. A separate business from the Thatched Cottage, it is unaffected by the bankruptcy proceedings. The restaurant has been closed since March, however, when Colamussi said he was closing for renovations.
-Arielle Dollinger contributed to this report.