Nippers stays open despite bankruptcy filing | News

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Nippers stays open despite bankruptcy filing
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JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- A popular Jacksonville Beach restaurant marred by tragedy has filed for bankruptcy.

Nippers Beach Grille found itself in local headlines after a man was killed during a summer event there in 2014.

The owner says that shooting along with other issues left him with little choice. June 26, 2014 is a day Rudy Theale will never forget.

Zachariah Tipton, 40, was shot and killed in the parking lot of a restaurant Theale helped to grow since 2011. The days, weeks and months following the tragic death of Tipton took it's toll. "After that it was very shaky for me for 90 days which I think is sort of expected," said Theale.

What he didn't expect was to have to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 24. Sales were up from 2013 compared to 2014 and this time around they're anticipating a sharp decline for 2015.

Nippers annual gross revenue, according to court documents:

2013- $3,353,264.00
2014- $3,516,510.00
2015- $3,010,000.00

"There were a couple of months of down sales as you would imagine from an event like that, which put me in position where I had to take on additional debt," said Theale. "It just got to a point where it needed to be restructured."

According to Nipper's bankruptcy filing, more than $1.1 million is owed to multiple creditors, including the IRS and the Duval County Tax Collector. When Theale acquired the restaurant in 2011 it already had debt which has continued to rack up since then. Theale says he's working to sell the restaurant and continue to build on its brand.

"It's an organizational structure thing that has nothing to do with the business going forward," said Theale. "We're not going anywhere."

A preliminary hearing will be held Aug. 7 to consider Nippers' motion for authority to use cash collateral.

Theale wants patrons to know the restaurant is not closing and all of its employees are still there and still getting paid. At this point, he's not sure if or how he will be involved with the restaurant moving forward.


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