Kalico Kitchen Forced To Close Its Doors After Failed Health Dept. Re-Inspection
One of the Saugatuck-Douglas area’s iconic restaurants has been shut down by the Allegan County Health Department and its owner says it won’t reopen unless a buyer steps forward.
The Kalico Kitchen, a decades-old eatery renowned for many years for its good old-fashioned breakfasts, closed its doors for perhaps the final time last week on orders from the county due to continued violations of the county health code.
Kalico Kitchen owner Catherine Wilt confirmed the health department shut down her restaurant after an inspector came in for a re-inspection of the facility that has been
dogged by not only health-code violations over the years, but financial trouble as well.
A spokesman for the Allegan County Health Department said the inspection report that led to the restaurant’s closure was being finalized, but offered no specifics of what caused the inspector to order the doors locked.
Wilt said she is now in the process of trying to sell the restaurant and met with a broker this past weekend.
The embattled long-time owner conceded the restaurant has been foreclosed on as she is “way behind” on paying its bills, including a nearly $10,000 electric bill that is in arrears.
When the doors closed last week, the restaurant had only four employees and was doing roughly about $100 to $120 in business a day, not enough to sustain it, according to Wilt.
“I’ve done my best to keep us going,” Wilt told The Local Observer in an earlier interview.
An additional serious concern of Wilt’s is that she at one point in the past put her home up as collateral on a bank loan to keep Kalico Kitchen in operation and now may lose her house in a foreclosure.
“I’ve been on borrowed time with the banks…they were going to shut me down last spring but we managed to convince them to give us a little more time since we were going to be featured on television.”
Wilt is referring to the Kalico Kitchen being featured in July on the Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible”, a show that trys to reinvigorate failing restaurants through revamped decor and integrating new operating procedures.
But the show hurt more than it helped, Wilt conceded, after what has been described by many as “horrendous” issues discovered at the restaurant, including bug infestations, extreme lack of cleanliness, poor managerial practices, etc.
Wilt said she also was wrongly portrayed as a verbally abusive owner with her staff and unable to keep the business in adherence with local health laws.
“The way they portrayed me is not who I am,” she said.
As a result of the television show, Wilt said there “repercussions” and “a lot of negativity.”
“Business has gotten so bad, I could never pull it back,” she noted. “I had hoped that show would help us, but it hurt us.”
Wilt said that with more than $800 in fees owed the health department, the staggering electrical bill and back payments owed on the mortgage, she said it is impossible to reopen the restaurant.
“My bank account is dry,” she said. “I don’t have anything left. I’m just hoping that I can some how hang onto my home, but I’m not sure I can do even that!”