America's Historic Roundhouse files for reorganization

America's Historic Roundhouse files for reorganization

Aurora's roundhouse in a 1955 aerial photo, showing the original roundhouse building and railroad shops. Photo from the Library of Congress site, original from the Aurora Historical Society.

First Borders Books, then Giordano's Pizza. Is there nothing I like that's safe from the Bankruptcy/Reorganization Monster? No, I guess not.

America's Historic Roundhouse, the entertainment complex and brewery in Aurora, announced on Thursday (Feb. 17) that they have filed for reorganization under Chapter 11.

Notice of the reorganization was posted to the Roundhouse web site and to members of its e-mail list:

In light of our current situation, we here at America's Historic Roundhouse feel compelled to explain the Chapter 11 proceedings filed earlier this week. As of our third quarter, 2010, it was determined that we needed to sell the building (which we have owned for the past 16 years) in order to cover our debts. Our mortgage company, Ciena Capital, agreed to what they call a "short sale."

Since then, we have found an interested buyer, current owners of Durty Nellie's in Palatine, IL. Once we prepared to execute the proper documents, Ciena Capital felt that since we had a "securitized note," with the building as collateral, they were not at liberty to discount this note. By filing for Chapter 11, it would trigger the release, allowing them to make the best deal and to discount such note. So, after much investigation, on February 14, 2011, we filed for Chapter 11.

Currently, we are operating business as usual. Once the courts review the documents and execute the process, we will be selling the building. America's Historic Roundhouse, America's Brewing Company and America's Banquets will remain as the tenants and all parties, weddings and corporate meetings will continue with the same quality and assurance our services have been providing for over a decade. Owners Scott and Pam Ascher have just scheduled their nephew's wedding this September, 2011.

America's Historic Roundhouse would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support over the past 15 years. Let's continue for another 15 years...

A Chapter 11 filing protects a debtor from collection attempts while it works out a restructuring plan, pending approval from a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The intent is to continue operating the business, usually with the goal of emerging from bankruptcy protection later on. The Roundhouse's case is somewhat similar to Giordano's, which has also stated it will keep paying its employees and vendors while it works out a reorganization plan.

The dancing bears on the label of America's Honey Wheat beer salute the time when Walter Payton was a college student, and took 2nd place at a "Soul Train" dance competition.

The Roundhouse was established in 1995 when the Aschers, in partnership with Bears Hall of Famer Walter Payton and Mark Alberts, purchased the vacant Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad roundhouse, the oldest existing limestone roundhouse in America. Though abandoned, the roundhouse had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

The building was restored and opened the next year as Walter Payton's Roundhouse, the last of several bars and clubs opened by Payton. The 70,000 square foot facility houses a brewery, restaurants and bars, banquet facility, outdoor pavilion and a Walter Payton museum where his 1986 Super Bowl memorabilia can be seen. Although Payton's family ended their association with the complex in January 2010, the museum remains, as does the brewery's Payton Pilsner, Payton Pilsner Light and other beers served at the brewpub and bottled for sale at Chicago area stores.

A Roundhouse manager confirmed the reorganization with me today, emphasizing that their goal is to continue operating as normal while they work to resolve their real estate situation. It's hoped that the Roundhouse's landmark status will make it easier to get approval for their prospective sale.

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Filed under: Beer Business

Tags: Aurora, Walter Payton

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