By Jennifer Tuohy, The Island Connection Editor
Regulars of Amy’s Italian Steakhouse on Seabrook Island were surprised to find a handwritten note on the door of the restaurant on Monday, Sept. 1 announcing the restaurant had closed its doors for good.
No one more so than owner and namesake Amy Bolan. “It was a shock, extremely disappointing and financially destroying,” she said.
According to Amy, her landlord, COC Corporation, had informed Amy and her husband, Bob, that they had 10 days to vacate following months of legal wrangling over an addendum to the lease.
“When we signed a lease the landlord had asked what we were going to do to the interior, so we made a list of everything that we wanted to do,” Amy said. “He attached it as an addendum to our lease.”
The Bolans set about remodeling the restaurant, sinking $100,000 into improvements, but when it came to tiling the kitchen floor they hit some structural roadblocks.
“It would have cost us a fortune to do (what the contractor advised) and we felt it wasn’t a tenant’s responsibility, it was a landlord’s responsibility,” Amy said.
According to Amy, COC Corporation didn’t agree, and told them the restaurant was in violation of its lease. “We had a rocky road with one of the owners from the beginning,” Amy said.
“He came in and verbally abused us over our food, I was shocked, but I said we’re working out kinks, that we’re here for the long term, we’ve put all our retirement into this. We got a new chef and we were really beginning to turn the corner I thought.”
According to Amy, COC Corporation’s representative told them they were being evicted because they didn’t do all of the improvements they planned on doing, and that the difference between what they had planned to do and what was actually done was about $15,000.
“We just don’t have that money,” Amy said. “We paid our rent 10 days early every month, but we’re a new business, we don’t have $15,000. We said we would be happy to make those changes down the road, but I guess they were just hell bent on getting their building improved.” The Island Connection’s attempts to reach COC Corporation for comment were unsuccessful.
“My attorney told us that if we took them to court to fight it, it could be a one to two year battle. But, he said, you put everything into this business, and they have deep pockets. So you’re going to have to shut down,” Amy said.
“The owner of the building said to us it’s just business. But it’s not just business to us, it’s our dream, it’s our retirement. My husband has Parkinsons. We’ve put $100,000 worth of improvements into that building and it’s just gone. We don’t have the money to fight it.
“We love Seabrook and we love it here. This was supposed to be our home this was supposed to be where we retired. We love the people here. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know why, we’re looking for the answers.”