A local investment company is claiming that a former Corbin restaurant owner owes more than $60,000 for allegedly defaulting on a lease agreement.
In a lawsuit filed in Whitley Circuit Court Feb. 9, South Neel Investments, Inc. is suing former Buckner’s Grill and Bar owner Johnny Buckner for $60,299.02 for breach of a long-term lease agreement between the two parties.
The restaurant, a once popular eatery in south Corbin near Country Inn and Suites, closed suddenly last September. Buckner blamed the poor economy for his decision to close the restaurant.
But there may have been other factors.
In August, the restaurant had received a string of relatively poor health inspection reports from the Whitley County Health Department. On Aug. 12, Buckner’s received a score of 86 on their regular inspection, but a lengthy list of remarks were as follows, with at least two of the violations being categorized as critical; dishwasher sanitizer in bad repair, i.e. no sanitization; can opener blade soiled; utensils soiled; inside ice machine soiled; inside ice bin soiled; shelf below grill soiled; three compartment sink at bar leaking; insects observed in kitchen; back door in bad repair; floors heavily soiled under grill and in dishwasher room; walls in bad repair throughout kitchen. Another follow up inspection was scheduled for Sept. 25, 2009 but Buckners closed before it was necessary.
There is now information that the financial problems plaguing Buckners may have been deeper than first suspected.
According to Kentucky Department of Revenue records, Teasley & Buckner, LLC, which did business as Buckners Grill and Bar, currently owes $36,447.76 in state taxes. Johnny Buckner is the owner of the company. Buckner also owes restaurant taxes to the city of Corbin for the second and third quarters of 2009, and alcohol taxes for the first and second quarters of that same year. Officials say it is not known exactly how much restaurant and alcohol taxes he owes because sales reports were not filed for those periods. The taxes are based on a restaurant’s gross receipts.
Records regarding potential delinquent county occupational taxes were requested by the News Journal Tuesday but could not be obtained by press time.
Sudhir Patel, owner and sole member of South Neel Investments, said Buckner signed a 20-year-lease agreement for the building and occupied it for about three and a half years. He said he tried to be generous and allow Buckner time to pay past due rent, but was never able to collect.
"Originally he did real good," Patel said Tuesday. "I don’t know what the problem was in the end. I acted in good faith with him. I wanted him to survive there … I gave him a lot of time to pay it and I tried to be fair about this but it just didn’t work out."
Buckner could not be reached for comment. All known contact phone numbers were either disconnected or not receiving calls.