The parent company of the Hyatt Grand Aspen on Friday won its eviction lawsuit against The Grape Bar, which will close its doors after tonight.
Delaware-based Grand Aspen Lodging LLC had alleged that the bar’s owner, Gregg Hemming, was not keeping proper track of his daily sales. The rent was based on those dollars amounts, and Grand Aspen Lodging alleged the bar’s accounting methods made it impossible to gauge how much was owed monthly.
Hemming in May called the eviction effort groundless and said it was a cover for the real reason Hyatt wanted his bar booted: that it was too noisy and disruptive for guests using nearby time-share units.
Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court on Friday ruled that The Grape Bar’s parent company, DG Holdings LLC, was unlawfully occupying the premises because it breached a term of the lease.
The ruling followed Nichols’ order on Sept. 25 in favor of Grand Aspen Lodging’s motion for summary judgment.
Hemming said Friday that he was in disbelief about the ruling and that his business was a victim of Hyatt’s corporate mentality.
“They’re very difficult people to work with,” he said. “There are a lot of [time-share] owners who are going to be disappointed that this is no longer going to be here.”
Hemming said he is looking for a new spot for his business.
It’s not disputed that The Grape Bar defaulted under its lease by failing to account for cash sales and maintain required records, Nichols wrote.
The summary judgment motion by Grand Aspen Lodging’s attorney, Greg Gordon of the Aspen law firm Garfield and Hecht, cited statements Hemming made in his deposition in the case.
“Mr. Hemming admitted that [he] did not utilize a cash register, that cash from sales was simply placed into a cash box, and that this cash was then given to ... bartenders and servers as compensation (without any accounting, payroll tax documentation or withholdings),” the motion says.
But Hemming’s attorney, John Case of Aspen, argued that the bar made nearly all of its sales in two ways: as room charges by time-share owners and from credit-card charges.
Case’s response to the summary judgment motion, titled simply “Plaintiff’s ‘undisputed facts’ are disputed,” says that the bar’s rent is minimal at $500 a month or 8 percent of gross sales, whichever is greater.
“The Grape Bar is a small business that is normally run by a single person at a time,” Case wrote. “The percentage of cash tendered for sales in the past was estimated in Mr. Hemming’s deposition as only a few percent, certainly less than 5 percent.”
The response says that, in response to Hyatt officials’ concerns, the bar no longer accepts cash at all, except for tips.
“The Grape Bar does maintain full and complete records of gross sales, but in the simplified form one would reasonably expect of a one-man operation,” Case’s response says.
The general manager of the Hyatt Grand Aspen, which is a fractional ownership lodge that also rents available rooms on a nightly basis, was not available to comment on what the plans are for the 1,204-square-foot bar space.