Hooters owner evicted from 3 restaurants

Topeka's Steakhouse at 1776 Parham Road (Photo by Michael Schwartz)

The Topeka’s Steakhouse at 1776 Parham Road is closed. (Photos by Michael Schwartz)

A local restaurant group working its way through bankruptcy reorganization has been evicted from three of its restaurants.

A landlord and lender took control of three of Cornett Hospitality’s 12 restaurants, including two local Hooters locations and a Topeka’s Steakhouse in the West End.

A sign at the Parham Road Topeka's directs customers elsewhere.

A sign at the Parham Road Topeka’s directs customers elsewhere.

The landlord, Arizona REIT Spirit Realty Capital, took back the properties after winning approval in federal bankruptcy court of its argument that it had terminated its leases with Cornett prior to the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in November.

Spirit is the landlord on Cornett’s Hooters restaurants at 7912 W. Broad St. and 1211 Huguenot Road in Midlothian, a Topeka’s Steakhouse restaurant at 1776 Parham Road, and two Hooters locations in Roanoke and Pennsylvania.

Hooters of America, the corporate owner of the Hooters brand, has taken over operations of the West Broad and Huguenot Road restaurants, and they remain open.

Cornett’s Topeka’s restaurant on Parham Road near the intersection of Three Chopt Road has been closed since Spirit carried out the eviction. A sign on the door says that the restaurant is under construction and that the Swift Creek and Charlottesville locations are still open. Spirit is not the landlord for those two sites. Topeka’s is a brand created by Cornett.

Cornett, which prior to its filing operated nine Hooters restaurants and three Topeka’s locations in Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, sought bankruptcy protection in late November in order to restructure its debt.

Spirit claimed that Cornett violated its lease on the five properties in early 2010 when it missed rent and loan payments.

Cornett argued that retaining locations was a vital part of its reorganization attempt.

Reached by phone Friday, Phil Cornett, a director of the company, would not comment on the bankruptcy other than to say, “We’re still in the process.”

LeClairRyan attorney Kirk Vogel is representing Spirit. He declined to comment.

Bruce Arkema, an attorney with DurretteCrump, is representing Cornett. He did not return several calls seeking comment.

Cornett is headquartered on Staples Mill Road and listed in its filing 287 creditors owed a combined $14.7 million. It listed assets of $625,000.

That debt includes $100,000 owed to Spirit in rent and $3 million Cornett borrowed from the company. Its other debts include $396,000 to Hooters of America, $1.3 million to Bank of Virginia and $1.2 million to StellarOne Bank.

Cornett received court approval for a payment plan with a company that insures its restaurants.

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Daniel Durazo

I was wondering what was going on with that Topkekas. It looked open, but was always empty. Thanks for the update.

RVA Diner

The Hooters West Broad Facebook page relaunched today. The photos uploaded were titled “training week,” yet much of the old staff seems to be in place. Does anyone have more information? Will it be the same team but new owners?