News Column

Penguin Drive-In files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

August 14, 2014

By Eric Frazier, The Charlotte Observer

Aug. 14--The troubled Penguin Drive-In restaurant filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court Thursday.

The Chapter 11 filing, submitted by Penguin owner Lisa Ballentine on behalf of Penguin Drive-In LLC, shows the restaurant with less than $50,000 in assets and well over $300,000 in debt.

Among the debts listed: $140,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, $70,000 to her sister, Beth Venn, $45,000 to AdvanceMe Inc., which specializes in giving cash advance loans to small businesses, $30,000 to Charlotte accountant Peter Bell, and $20,000 to the N.C. Department of Revenue.

The landmark eatery's future has been in doubt since news surfaced more than a week ago that it had been closed. Ballentine initially said it would reopen Aug. 6, but it remained closed.

Her bankruptcy attorney, Samantha Brumbaugh of Greensboro, told the Observer Thursday that the restaurant will reopen "soon," though she declined to say exactly when.

Asked if Ballentine would be available for comment, she said "probably not."

"The owner is currently taking a vacation," she said.

The property's landlord, 1921 Commonwealth Ave. Holdings LLC, sued the restaurant's management last year, accusing the eatery of defaulting on its lease and a $17,763 loan.

The business first filed for bankruptcy protection in November. In May, a federal judge threw out one of the Penguin's two bankruptcy filings, ruling the business hadn't paid necessary fees or filed required financial documents. The second bankruptcy case associated with the restaurant was dismissed last month.

The debts listed in Tuesday's filings largely mirror those listed in the bankruptcy cases that were thrown out. Tuesday's filings came on the same day 1921 Commonwealth Avenue Holdings received a hearing in Mecklenburg District Court on its request to have the restaurant evicted form the property.

Staff researcher Maria David contributed.


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Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)

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