AIKEN - The Griffin family breathed a sigh of relief once the auction gavel dropped at their popular Bobby's Bar-B-Que restaurant Friday.
Bobby Griffin Jr. bid $60,500 for the cooking equipment, catering trucks and gift shop items that were up for auction to pay creditors.
Griffin said he can now guarantee that the restaurant will open Wednesday. He will take over the business from his mother, Barbara Griffin, who has owned it since her husband, Bobby Griffin Sr., died in 2008.
"This will make things easier," he said. "We will open on the 24th at the same capacity, with the same good food."
The auction was a part of a restructuring plan under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Barbara Griffin said after the auction.
A judge approved the reorganization plan Jan. 7, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The judge ordered Griffin to sell all real property of the restaurant through a one-lot auction to settle a tax lien imposed by the state Department of Revenue. In the original Chapter 11 filing, the restaurant owed the department more than $362,000.
The auction of the property, which had been appraised at $35,184, will now settle the debt and lift the tax lien. All net proceeds from the auction, minus sales agent, advertising and other costs, will be paid to the Department of Revenue.
A judge will enter a final decree on the case March 7.
Griffin filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the business in June after being overwhelmed by estate tax and legal costs she accrued after her husband's death.
The agency also claimed the business owed sales tax, she said, but "they never proved it."
"I'm just so thankful it's over," she said. "We appreciate all our customers, because we could not have done it without them and the help of the Lord."
About 75 people attended the auction at the restaurant on Jefferson Davis Highway this morning, said auctioneer Dennis Cheeks. Several of those in attendance, including bidders from North Carolina and Tennessee, offered competitive bids, he said.
The family ultimately was able to keep the business and the contents of the business collected over the past 25 years in the family, Bobby Griffin Jr. said.
"We just hope our customer family will come back and see us next week," he said.
Mel Minitor said he was glad his favorite barbecue restaurant would stay in business. The Burnettown man said he has eaten there for 22 years.
"Until my dad's health failed, we would come here almost every Friday and eat with Bobby (Griffin Sr.). They made everybody feel welcome ," Minitor said. "This place is an institution. I put this barbecue against anybody's anywhere."