Old World Pizza shuts down abruptly in Inver Grove Heights, but owner plans to reopen this summer – Twin Cities

The popular Inver Grove Heights restaurant, Old World Pizza, closed abruptly over the weekend due to a dispute with his bank following the death of a co-owner in August 2021. The current owner said the restaurant could reopen elsewhere as soon as this summer.

According to a statement posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, “After 50 years of serving pizza to our community and many loyal customers, we want to thank you for your patronage over the years.” “We don’t know what the future will bring, but we enjoyed serving you.”

Co-owner Jason Hines said he was surprised to see Village Bank locked down the building on Saturday, March 11. He knew the restaurant’s closure was on the horizon as the temporary operating structure was set up following the death of owner Craig Kristof in 2021. had solved it. However, Hines said that requests for Village Bank to close the business on a mutually agreed date, so that Hines could close the restaurant and process the final payroll on its own terms, went unanswered.

Nearly 50 years before the business moved to Inver Grove Heights, South St. It started out as The Pizza Factory in St. Hines and Kristof took over the business in April 2021, and Kristof died unexpectedly a few months later.

Old World Pizza, a restaurant in Inver Grove Heights, is shown in this undated photo. The restaurant closed unexpectedly on March 11. (Photo courtesy of Old World Pizza)

After purchasing the restaurant, Kristof and Hines also spent about $150,000 on unforeseen but necessary repairs to the building and kitchen. When Kristof died, full legal ownership of the business and a federal small business loan in his name were transferred to his aunt, who was a beneficiary.

Hines said he’s spent the past year and a half trying to renegotiate a series of operating deals to take ownership of the restaurant, keep the restaurant open, and cover both the loan and the rising property tax bill from building repairs.

Ultimately, he says, his attempts were unsuccessful and Kristof’s aunt handed over the title to the restaurant to Village Bank, which authorized him to shut down the business, which he apparently saw as bankrupt. Hines alleges that the bank acted irrationally by pressuring Kristof’s aunt to transfer ownership of the business and resisting requests to honor the restaurant’s efforts to streamline its business. Hines said the business has been a success and is actually making regular loan repayments.

Jeff Reed, owner of a company called Cambridge Bank Professionals, told Dakota County Commissioner Joe Atkins that the restaurant was unable to pay its debt and voluntarily handed over the title to avoid foreclosure. Sharing the statement on his official Facebook page, Atkins said Reed represented “the bank that shut down its 50-year-old Inver Grove business,” but Hines said he never interacted with Cambridge Bank Professionals or Reed. Reed has yet to return a request for comment from Pioneer Press, and his role in Old World Pizza’s demise remains unclear.

What’s next?

Old World Pizza may not reopen at its current location, but the restaurant’s story is not over. Hines said the company has secured legal control of its name, recipes and other intellectual property, and plans to reopen a version of the restaurant in a new location nearby.

He said the pizzeria’s best choice for his new home was larger than his current location and had a bar area; It hopes to sign a lease in the coming weeks and reopen in a few months. Nothing has been finalized yet, but he hopes the new location will open by summer and be as similar as possible to what old customers remember.

“We just want to make sure the dust settles here and then we can start being positive with our customers again,” Hines said. “If we round up all our ducks in a row, we’ll re-establish this in a second.”