Cathie Anderson: After 50-plus years, Sacramento's Buggy Whip restaurant to be liquidated

Published: Saturday, Jul. 14, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 15, 2012 - 2:19 pm

Sacramento resident Virginia Ludwig wanted to say farewell to a friend who was heading to Florida with a prime rib dinner at the Buggy Whip on Fulton Avenue.

For almost a year, the sign on the door has stated that the restaurant was closed for remodeling, so customers such as Ludwig and Bob McCray started calling me recently to ask what's going on.

"I used to take my son there when he was little," the 73-year-old Ludwig told me. " … I've had so many friends calling, saying, 'What's going on with the Buggy Whip?' "

The restaurant, founded in 1959, is on its way to being liquidated as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding.

Attempts to reach owner Larry Le Sieur or his attorney, Marc A. Caraska, were unsuccessful, so I asked local bankruptcy attorney Phil Rhodes to review the court documents.

In late June, the Chapter 7 trustee began the hunt for assets to sell to repay creditors. Debts include $14,000 owed to the state Board of Equalization, $21,000 to the Employment Development Department and $47,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Le Sieur's Buggy Whip initially filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last August. But in April, a creditor asked the court to convert the reorganization to a liquidation. Monthly operating reports, filed months past the due date, showed that checks were bouncing, that thousands of dollars in cash withdrawals were being made without explanation, and that a mortgage was being paid but no real estate was listed as an asset.

"The questions are: Did you not list real estate that you should have? Or, are you making mortgage payments for something that you should not be paying?" Rhodes asked. "They made $20,000 in cash withdrawals in December. … I suspect his vendors were only taking cash, but he could have done a little better job of documenting it."

County records show that Le Sieur had owned the Buggy Whip's building with Stephen N. Le Sieur until Nov. 19, 2010, when it was put into a revocable living trust under Stephen Le Sieur's name as part of an interfamily transfer. The relationship is unclear.

"The Buggy Whip is ... not coming back to life," Rhodes said. "That doesn't mean that the owner … can't open a different restaurant there."

If Larry Le Sieur did so, Ludwig said, she'd return for the prime rib, soup and salad combination.

PBteen? It's Furlicious

If you've got a teenager, you may be reading this as you stand in line for today's 10 a.m. grand opening of the PBteen store in Westfield Galleria at Roseville.

"The first 250 people to come to the store on Saturday morning get a free PBteen backpack and the chance to win a $250 gift card if they get one of four backpacks with a golden ticket," spokeswoman Candice Miller said during a tour of the store.

Decades-old wood makes the store feel homey. Railroad ties, wood from an old Army barracks in Oakland and flooring from a dismantled Pennsylvania barn have been reclaimed, all found in a Sacramento lumberyard.

Computers allow teens to design a bedroom that everyone can see on a TV monitor across the room. Or, sit in a swivel chair covered by plush Furlicious fabric.

But beware, that dreamy Chatham canopy bed regularly goes for $800 to $1,800, depending on size.

Nancy Guettier, the vice president of visual merchandising for PBteen, said designers also make house calls. "We'll go to your house, measure, help you pick colors, or help you work with your existing furniture if you're not going to do the whole room."

This is the sixth PBteen store but the first on the West Coast.

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