In a bankruptcy filing that appears to consist of one-half chutzpah and one-half bullshit, the short-lived, shuttered Beer Nation is asking a judge to terminate its lease agreement so that the pub can move to "a new location that is more business friendly."
Filed July 31, about a month after landlord Greenberg & Company changed the locks on the Westchase-area pub, the petition for bankruptcy relief claims Beer Nation has more than $816,000 in unsecured creditors' claims. Beer Nation is owned by Scott Hait, who lives outside Detroit, and the overwhelming share of those claims appears to be loans that Beer Nation took out from another Hait-owned company, Ripped T-Shirt. Both Hait and Ripped T-Shirt were among a handful of defendants in a Michigan money-laundering civil suit that was settled for $200,000 in March 2017, a month before Beer Nation opened.
Ripped T-Shirt was also a defendant in another Hait-owned bar in Indiana, which, like Beer Nation, was accused by its landlord of violating the terms of its lease. That bar, alternately called Jumpers and Pin Ups, didn't last long either.
Two of Beer Nation's vendors told the Houston Press in July they're owed money, and their businesses appear among other vendors' claims in the bankruptcy filings, including Sysco, with a $16,182 claim.
The court filing alleges that Beer Nation grossed $97,861 over its two months in business, which was not enough to meet the $25,000 monthly lease and "other operating expenses."
The petition claims that Greenberg & Company hasn't allowed the business to "make necessary adjustments...to allow [Beer Nation] to become more profitable." (If only manager Larry Kakos had been allowed to follow through on his dream of booking "bands like Sponge and Puddle of Mudd," the joint would've been rolling in dough. Or "ddough.")
The motion also seeks to recover personal property that's allegedly locked inside the premises, including $18,800 worth of food and beverages (that's a lot of Bud Light!), along with Beer Nation's no doubt meticulous financial records.
Beer Nation's attorney, Joseph Acosta, declined to comment. Hait did not respond to requests for comment; the pub's former manager, Larry Kakos, has also declined requests.
In his personal bankruptcy filing from 2009, Hait wrote that he worked as a mechanic for E&M Properties, and the phone number Hait wrote on the Beer Nation lease matches E&M's number on a current Michigan Department of State Police list of authorized motor carriers.
The company was run at one point by Eugene Pallisco, one of Hait's co-defendants in the 2016 money-laundering dispute. Pallisco was ultimately dropped from the suit. After E&M closed, Pallisco issued online press releases claiming he had become the CEO of an olive oil importer called Genco, which Godfather fans may recognize as the name of Vito Corleone's front company. After all, olive oil, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.