PORTSMOUTH — Mombo Restaurant has filed for voluntary bankruptcy following the sudden death of owner Thomas Perron, and a federal court judge has been asked to grant permission to move ahead with a sale and bidding process starting at $150,000 for the desirable Strawbery Banke location.
The 66 Marcy St. restaurant has been closed since Perron’s death in June. This summer marked the business’s 10-year anniversary.
Mombo, located at Strawbery Banke Museum and overlooking Prescott Park, had been dubbed a “sophisticated haunt for refined New American fare in airy quarters with wood beams and a patio lounge.” The restaurant won several “Taste of the Seacoast” awards, and in 2012, Perron prepared a special luncheon for the Obamas and Bidens.
Mombo LLC, owned by Perron’s revocable trust, filed for voluntary bankruptcy in federal court Oct. 6. Trustee attorney David Mulhern is represented in court proceedings by attorney Steven Notinger, who on Wednesday said the building is leased and the sale “will include an assignment of the lease.“
According to court documents, nine years remain on the lease with Strawbery Banke Inc., which owns the building.
Notinger said the business’s debts currently exceed its assets, requiring an orderly process to “pay its creditors something.” Notinger explained all bankruptcy sales are essentially auctions, and the court must establish a sale procedure. A hearing to approve procedures is scheduled for Oct. 21.
Currently, an interested buyer for $150,000 is Lent Investments LLC, owned by Ryan Lent of Rye. Notinger said once the court approves sale procedures, it can turn into “competitive bidding.”
“Hopefully we’ll get a lot higher of a price,” he said.
Reached this week, Lent said he is currently unable to comment on his plans for the property if he is the successful buyer.
Court documents show Mombo LLC’s trade debt currently consists of approximately $270,779, consumer deposit claims of known individuals of $55,775, and approximately $30,000 in gift cards. There is a total of less than 50 creditors.
The filings cited gross revenues in 2017, 2018 and 2019 coming in between $1.1 million and $1.72 million each year.
“By all accounts, the debtor’s restaurant was successful,” Notinger wrote in court documents, citing it as one of the “top four or five restaurants in Portsmouth. When COVID hit, the restaurant, like all restaurants, struggled with curbside delivery.”
During this period, the documents state, Perron died suddenly. According to Perron’s estate plan, upon his death, the trustee became Mullhern, of Portsmouth, “who has 100% authority to act on behalf of the debtor.”
Mullhern used the restaurant’s cash on hand to maintain the premises while soliciting buyers for the restaurant, according to court documents.
He attempted to hire business brokers, “but they were not interested in attempting to sell a restaurant in this market.” Mullhern did obtain “six or seven“ interested parties in the restaurant.
“During the time (Mullhern) was soliciting offers, creditors kept calling for their money, particularly consumer deposit creditors that booked events and gave deposits,“ the court documents say.
Mombo, because of its picturesque location, was a popular venue for wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners.
Mullhern accepted an offer from Lent Investments to buy the assets, but “based upon (his) desire to maximize value and create an orderly liquidation of the debtor,” Mullhern chose to file for voluntary bankruptcy and solicit bids.
If Lent is not the successful buyer, he’ll be entitled $10,000 as part of a “break-up” fee.
“There are no viable options other than a sale,” Notinger wrote. “This is a closed restaurant with a deceased owner.”