Tampa's Restaurant BT files for bankruptcy

This just in… taken from a news release from Restaurant BT in Tampa:BT Nguyen

“One of Tampa Bay’s premier restaurants is taking a bold step to ensure its viability for years to come. Renowned Chef B.T. Nguyen says she has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reorganize her business, Restaurant B.T. in Tampa’s Hyde Park Village. “I was forced to take this action because I was given three days notice to pay back rent or be evicted,” Nguyen explained. “My top priority is to preserve my business to protect my family, my employees, my loyal customers and the relationship with my vendors,” says the single mother of two.

While the once trendy shopping district has seen its occupancy level drop well below fifty per cent, Nguyen has managed to navigate the rough waters of the worst economy the nation and, the Tampa Bay region in particular, has seen in decades. A five time recipient of Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon Award and earning a spot in its Hall of Fame this year, Restaurant BT has been at its current location for 5 years. The French-Vietnamese menu has also earned a Zagat rating of 28. In addition, Conde Nast rates Restaurant BT among the top 73 restaurants in the world. BT herself has a reputation any restauranteur would envy with more than two decades of offering excellent cuisine in the bay area.

Nguyen says she has repeatedly tried to negotiate a lease that now commands in excess of $14.500.00 a month, but to no avail. “At the current rate, I am paying 16% of my monthly sales. The industry standard is 8%,” she explains. Nguyen says she never missed making at least a partial payment every month as a good faith gesture. “We sent four letters seeking a compromise, but never even received a response,” she said. The restaurateur says she even agreed to pay the current rent in addition to paying partial back rent every month.

Last June, Nguyen wrote a letter to Vornado which managed Hyde Park Village at the time, explaining that her sales had dropped 25% since 2006. In reality, the numbers are even worse. Currently, sales are off 45% from four years ago. To compensate, she hasn’t paid herself a salary for the last 18 months. She says her offer to downsize and move into a smaller space in Hyde Park Village was also ignored. Instead, Vornado simply turned the matter over to its attorneys who recently threatened to evict her. Moreover, it was Vornado which persuaded Nguyen to leave her highly successful operation on Gandy Boulevard five years ago.

Despite the shopping district’s low occupancy rate, Vornado appears unwilling to make any accommodations for a tenant who has not only weathered the storm, but persevered by adapting to changing times. Within the last year, Restaurant BT began offering a very affordable bar menu and the staff has been cut from more than 50 to 35.

With vacant storefronts directly across from the restaurant, Hyde Park Village generates very little traffic. Patrons don’t simply wander into Restaurant BT. It is absolutely a destination and the formidable chef and owner intends to keep it that way.”

Similar Posts:


3 comments to Tampa’s Restaurant BT files for bankruptcy

  • Audra Chapman

    I find it extremely unfortunate that the management of Hyde Park Village refuses honor any negotiations with a restaurant that has not only remained a gem in an otherwise desolate “shopping village,” but has continued to be a shining example of culinary excellence in Tampa.

  • Annette Moore

    Agree with the previous comment. It is truly a gem in Tampa. If Hyde Park wants to attract more businesses to the area, this is certainly not the way to do it.

  • Erica Wise

    Restaurant BT is fabulous and it would be such a shame if it had to close its doors due to the inflexibility of Hyde Park management. This area needs to be revived and that won’t happen by pushing loyal vendors/restaurants off the street!

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>