CARY, N.C. — Customers are concerned about a restaurant in Cary because many put down money for banquet facilities. WRAL has learned that the owner of Gregory's Restaurant in Cary filed for bankruptcy, leaving people to wonder if they are going to see their money.
On Dec. 31, Terri Philmon booked a banquet room at Gregory's Restaurant. She has $1,000 down and she is wondering if she will need to find a new place for her summer wedding reception.
"I was just sickened at the thought of going through the process of trying to find a new establishment," she said.
The note on the restaurant window says closed for remodeling, but mail is being returned as undeliverable and there is no working phone number. WRAL has learned that the main owner, Sami Al-Mahmoud, filed for personal bankruptcy last summer. Records show he owes $1.2 million to a list of more than 40 creditors.
Al-Mahmoud was also the owner of Le Coco in Durham and Gregory's in Northgate Mall. Le Coco is still open, while Gregory's in Northgate closed about a week ago. This week, his three restaurants were sold as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. The new owner is Patricia Lester, one of his employees.
When WRAL called Lester, she denied being the owner, creating more confusion. Whoever the owner is, they still have to come to terms with the other owner, the one who still owns one-third of the stock in Gregory's at the Cary location.
Part-owner Paula Papadopolous is trying to recover her own losses from Al-Mahmoud and sell her stock. She has a personal stake too -- it was her family that started this business.
"It's kinda sad because our family put a lot into that," she said. "I don't foresee it opening up again. I really don't."
Al-Mahmoud told WRAL he has every intention of being back in business. He said he is contacting his customers who have put down money. Philmon is still waiting for word.
"No one has contacted us. That's very disappointing because we had our faith in these people," Philmon said.
There are also issues with the health department at Gregory's Restaurant in Cary. A health inspector told WRAL Al-Mahmoud never submitted the proper paperwork when he took over ownership. The Attorney General's office says customers who paid a deposit with a credit card should contact their credit card company to recover losses.