FARMINGTON – Following the abrupt closing of popular restaurant Apricots Restaurant & Pub, court documents showed that the owners may have been facing some financial trouble.
Concerned employees reached out to FOX61 after learning they were out of a job on Thursday.
"There was no discussion of it. There was no official word from management, or the owner, who was saying this was going to happen. This was completely out of the blue," Apricots server Rachel Benoit said.
Apricots owner Ann Howard said they are closing for renovations and re-branding. The restaurant was chained shut Thursday, with a sign reading, “Closed till further notice.”
FOX61 returned Friday, to find the chain removed, but the sign remained.
Town of Farmington property records show no recent notice of sale for the property. Town Manager Kathleen Eagen said the town did not get any advanced notice of the closing or confirmation from Apricots that they have officially closed.
“The Town of Farmington did not receive the July 2017 real estate taxes from the lender, the Town has liens on the property to secure payment,” Eagen wrote.
Court documents reveal the owners of Apricots have been taken to court more than once.
In June, Webster Bank filed a complaint against the Howards for defaulting on a $450,000 dollar loan for their Farmington home.
A recent affidavit of debt revealed Joseph Howard Jr. and Ann Howard failed to pay monthly home mortgage payments when due, beginning early in 2016. According to the affidavit, the amount owed is more than $477,000, which includes attorney fees.
Friday, Webster Bank made a motion for entry of a monetary judgement upon default in action against the couple.
The Howards are also being sued by Bond Development, LLC over a rent dispute for a different business based out of Hartford, “Ann Howard Catering.” That lawsuit is ongoing.
FOX61 stopped by the Howard’s Farmington home Friday and were told by a man who identified himself as Joe Howard that they would be paying Apricots employees “right away.”
When asked why they didn’t notify employees of the closing, he said the manager makes those decisions, that he is the owner and has no comment. He identified the manager as his son, Joe Howard III. We went to his home but nobody answered the door.
Since learning the restaurant closed Thursday morning, customers with events planned at Apricots were left scrambling. Several area businesses, including Tunxis Country Club, The Cure, Farmington Gardens and the North House, have offered to help those customers.