Testa’s restaurant faces foreclosure in Florida

Posted Sept. 28, 2010, at 12:47 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:07 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Pines in the summer. Foreclosure in the winter?

A Main Street restaurant that opened 76 years ago has long been known for its slogan “pines in the summer, palms in the winter,” which made reference to its second location in Palm Beach, Fla.

But according to a Florida newspaper, the future of the Testa’s restaurant in Palm Beach is in jeopardy. A Sept. 19 story in the Palm Beach Daily News indicated that a final judgment of foreclosure on the Palm Beach property has been ordered in the Circuit Court for Palm Beach County. Unless the Testa family can come up with $7.7 million to pay off a loan, interest, court costs and fees, a foreclosure auction on the property at 221 Royal Poinciana Way will be held on March 24, 2011, according to the newspaper.

The Florida restaurant, which first opened in 1921, has not been open since mid-August when slow business prompted the Testas to close its doors, the Palm Beach paper reported.

Attempts Monday to directly contact Tom Testa, president of the restaurants, were unsuccessful, but the family’s Maine lawyer, local attorney Doug Chapman, said the Bar Harbor restaurant is not in any financial straits.

“None of the issues in Florida will affect the Bar Harbor operation at all,” Chapman said Monday. “They are separate entities.”

In an e-mailed statement sent Monday to the Bangor Daily News, the Testas reiterated Chapman’s comment. They said in the statement that they have been trying since 2006 to get local approval in Palm Beach to redevelop the Poinciana Way property.

In the statement, the Testas indicate they want Palm Beach to increase the allowed residential density and building height limits and to permit below-grade parking in the area. But subsequent “charettes, studies, and the comments of naysayers” have bogged down the project, they said.

“The recent foreclosure judgment entered the other day is an unfortunate product of the delays we have encountered,” the statement read. “We will continue to try to resolve this issue in order to avoid the foreclosure sale.”

The Testas indicated that if they cannot stay at their current Poinciana Way location, which they hope to re-open in November, they hope to continue operating Testa’s in the Palm Beach area. They said they “will have no further comment” about the pending Florida foreclosure.

The Testa family has helped promote causes in Maine through its Palm Beach restaurant which, unlike its sister eatery in Bar Harbor, normally is open year round. Information about the Bar Harbor-based Downeast Scenic Railroad, of which Tom Testa has been a strong supporter, and a link to the railroad’s website can be found online at www.testasrestaurants.com. In May 2009 a fundraising reception for Ellsworth’s Maine Coast Memorial Hospital was held at the Florida restaurant.

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