MIDWAY — The Black Tulip, an elegant restaurant in downtown Midway, is closing this month after its owner was unable to prevent a bank foreclosure.
But that might not be the end of the high-end restaurant known for its stellar French-inspired cuisine.
"The tulip dies off every year," owner Bill Van den Dool said of the flower, "and then it comes back again the following year. We'll just have to come back again."
The troubles for the restaurant began last fall. Since its opening in September 2005, the restaurant had been doing well, Van den Dool said, but it was struggling to meet its loan covenants with the bank.
He found an investor interested in a stake in The Black Tulip in exchange for taking over some of the loans.
But the bank asked for a sizable security deposit that frightened off the investor, said Van den Dool and the restaurant's general manager, Summer Cooper.
Van den Dool said he sought to restructure the loan and spread it out over more years, but the bank didn't agree.
"I had a certain amount that the Tulip could afford to pay and still maintain it," he said. "They just didn't see it."
In the spring, the bank foreclosed on the property, which includes a home above the restaurant for Van den Dool and his wife. Van den Dool sought other financial backers, but their attempts to work with the bank failed.
At an auction in mid-June, several parties planned to buy it on behalf of Van den Dool, but they were outbid with the final $510,000 purchase price, Cooper said.
The new owners "have turned around and decided to operate it themselves," Cooper said.
Cooper and Van den Dool identified the buyer as Norman Umphenour, who did not return messages left on his work and cell phones. The Woodford County Property Valuation Administrator listed the buyer as Roxanne Umphenour, who also could not be reached.
Van den Dool said he and his staff — which includes son and chef Spencer and daughter and bar manager Meghann — intend to reopen somewhere else and might wind up outside Midway.
"We are dedicated to this community, but the available properties in this area are extremely limited," he said.
Another auction for the restaurant's furnishings is to be July 8, but Van den Dool hopes it can be postponed so that the restaurant can continue operating through the end of July.
"That will give us time to reduce the inventory, to get everything straightened out with the different accounts and give fair due notice to the employees," he said. "We'll go out with a bang.
"I think the people in Midway who have supported us deserve that."