Sunday November 25, 2012

LENOX -- The owner of one of the area's most popular sports bars, Halpin's Grub and Grog, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing assets of $650,000 and debts of $900,000.

JSH Enterprises LLC, which lists Jeffrey S. Halpin as president and manager, owns the property at 490 Pittsfield Road (Route 7 & 20) and a subsidiary business operates the restaurant and sports bar, also managed by Halpin. The restaurant remains open and is typically packed wall-to-wall with locals, especially on nights and weekend afternoons when major sports contests are projected on an array of 10 big-screen TVs.

The filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Spring field carries an automatic freeze, usually 30 days, on any auction of the property to satisfy the debts or other efforts by creditors to collect money owed, which protects the business and gives it time to seek repayment plans or other resolution of the case.

An auction by Aaron Posnik Inc., of Springfield, originally set for this Thursday has been postponed and could be re-scheduled in a few weeks. Passersby saw a notice of the auction on the Halpin's marquee for several hours on Nov. 16, but it was removed at about the same time the bankruptcy petition was filed with the court. The sale would have covered the land, building, equipment and furnishings, according to Posnik's website.

The major creditor is Berkshire Bank, which holds a first mortgage on the property opposite the Center at Lenox, which houses the Price Chopper supermarket. The amount owed to the bank was not available. The court petition, which requires a judge's decision after the waiting period, also lists a second mortgage-holder, Bay State Colony Development Corp. in Waltham, just outside Boston, with an unspecified debt. No other creditors are listed on the document.

Halpin and his wife at the time, Susan, purchased the property, formerly Sophia's restaurant, for $695,000 in July 2008, according to Eagle files. The renovated site with seating for about 90 people and a staff of 36 full- and part-time employees opened in September of that year as an Irish-style tavern with food, a full bar, pool tables and a lounge with video games and a jukebox.

To finance the acquisition and to support a major overhaul of the premises, a $794,750 mortgage was taken out from Legacy Banks, which was merged into Berkshire Bank last year. A U.S. Small Business Administration loan also helped fund the renovation costing about $300,000, which brought the total investment to just shy of $1 million.

Halpin's features regularly scheduled live music, with bookings still listed on its website into next February, and it won this year's Pittsfield Family YMCA "Wing Fling" competition.

Halpin did not respond to several messages seeking comment. His attorney, Harris Aaronson of Pittsfield, was reported to be unreachable for comment during the Thanks giving holiday period. Berkshire Bank's attorney for the case, Richard Dohoney of Derosa Dohoney LLP in Pittsfield, declined to discuss the case.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto.