by Natalie Paddon – Hamilton Spectator
A cash drawer and beer tap marked for auction on the patio at Sarcoa. – John Rennison,The Hamilton Spectator
The end has come for Sarcoa.
The restaurant — located on prime waterfront land — is auctioning off all its equipment, furniture and fixtures in an effort to recoup some of the $5 million the owners invested in the Discovery Drive property, says Sarcoa’s lawyer, Konstantine Ketsetzis.
“I think the writing is on the wall there,” Ketsetzis said Thursday. “Obviously, by having an auction of the items, it won’t be operating any further.”
The Hamilton Waterfront Trust terminated Sarcoa’s sublease for the city-owned building in July for allegedly breaching conditions and not paying rent. The sublease, which began in 2012, had been for 20 years in the former Discovery Centre.
Sarcoa co-owner Sam Destro has denied the allegations.
At the same time, the trust has been locked in a $15-million legal battle that the waterfront eatery launched against the arm’s-length agency and the city in late 2015.
“Whatever is happening is without prejudice to the ongoing litigation,” Ketsetzis said about the auction, which his clients initiated.
A viewing for the online auction was held Wednesday, with bids on the first lot of goods closing Thursday.
Items up for grabs run the gamut: from smokers to bar and patio chairs; from a grand piano to a hot water tank.
Ketsetzis said his clients don’t have a “magic number” in mind for what they hope to make from the auction.
“They’re just trying to recoup something in order to make sure that this isn’t all for naught,” he said, later adding, “They’ve got bills to pay like everybody else — it’s that plain and simple.”
The restaurant was located in the Hamilton Waterfront Trust Centre on property that has been described as a jewel in the region.
These waterfront lands are also the focus of a $143-million revitalization over the next decade or more to turn the city’s West Harbour into a more accessible, community-oriented space that will be home to thousands of new residents.
To stay afloat, Sarcoa shifted its emphasis to special events, bringing JEM Hospitality on board to handle event bookings at the eatery.
This spring, Destro told The Spectator the restaurant wasn’t “going away.”
“We are going to do whatever it takes … to keep this thing alive,” he said at the time.
On Thursday, Ketsetzis said his clients were not “pleased” to be throwing the towel in.
“At the end of the day, it’s not what they wanted,” he said. “But they couldn’t go any further with what it was and certainly not in the situation where the trust had chosen to terminate the lease.”