Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The real reasons for Curry Leaf's move

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 3:47 PM

click to enlarge Lana Hillstrom's departure from downtown appears to be for reasons different than a belief in the area's business viability. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Lana Hillstrom's departure from downtown appears to be for reasons different than a belief in the area's business viability.
In this blog post yesterday, I reported on Coquette's Bistro & Bakery's move into 321 N. Tejon St., the former location of the Curry Leaf

Specific to the Curry Leaf's side of that news, I spoke briefly with owner Lana Hillstrom, who said she'll be reopening "on the east side of town" around two weeks from now. As for the reason for her move, she said "downtown is dying," noting problems ranging from parking to the homeless. She also said she'd been wanting to move for quite some time, and waited until her lease expired. 

Well, that doesn't appear to be the whole truth of the matter.

For starters, Gary Feffer of Fountain Colony real estate says there was never a formal lease agreement in place between Hillstrom and building owner Scott Long

Instead, he says, the two parties “came to a mutual agreement to terminate her tenancy ... relieving her of whatever obligations she had in return to get a tenant of the quality of Coquette’s. It’s a good business decision.” 

As to the vagueness of those "obligations," Hoff and Leigh real estate rep Holly Trinidad, representing Coquette for its move into the space, says she believes Hillstrom was behind on the agreed monthly rent, a situation similar to what she witnessed while representing the landlord at Curry Leaf’s initial location at 26 S. Wahsatch Ave. 

In that former space, says Trinidad, HIllstrom defaulted on her lease and was evicted, leaving the space "in subpar condition." As explained in our recent feature about Curry Leaf allegedly not paying its employees, building owner J.J. Grueter ended up suing Hillstrom, winning by default when she failed to show in court. With a court order and sheriff's deputies in tow, he was able to reclaim kitchen machinery with which she'd departed.

"We were able to take a bad tenant and replace that tenant with a really strong tenant that’s gonna be a great asset for downtown," Trinidad says of the transition.

After speaking with Hillstrom on Monday, I obtained copies of six federal tax liens against the business dated between August 2011 and October 2013. 

You can view them all here:

As for understanding the "kind of tax" or coding on those documents the IRS' website comes in handy. Here are some brief explanations:

940- Form 940 is used to report annual Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax. Together with state unemployment tax systems, the FUTA tax provides funds for paying unemployment compensation to workers who have lost their jobs. Most employers pay both a federal and a state unemployment tax. Only employers pay FUTA tax. The FUTA tax is not deducted from employees' wages.

941- Employers who withhold income taxes, social security tax, or Medicare tax from employee's paychecks or who must pay the employer's portion of social security or Medicare tax, use Form 941 to report those taxes.

1120 - Form 1120 is filed for a U.S. Corporation Income Tax Return

6721 - Failure to file correct information returns. 

Here's info on how to get rid of a lien. At this time, the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office, via public information officer Ryan Parsell, confirms that they do not possess any releases that show any of the liens as having been settled.

"If they had been settled, we would have the releases," he says. 

I left Hillstrom messages this morning in hopes of obtaining comment. She has yet to respond, but I'll update this posting should she do so. 

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