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Now fight begins over restaurant equipment

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Snappy Tomato Pizza owner Tim Larken is walking away from his financial obligations to The Commons with a promise to pay $18,500 to the city, while creditors vie for the restaurant’s equipment.

Former Snappy Tomato franchise owner Larry Kleinhenz claimed the restaurant equipment belongs to him, and he told Columbus Redevelopment Commission members Friday that he will file a lawsuit to reacquire it.

The Snappy Tomato corporate franchise also wants the equipment, Kleinhenz said.

Kleinhenz operated Snappy Tomato from 1999 to 2005, selling the franchise in 2005 to Larken & Co. LLC. He asked the commission Friday to delay its decision to terminate Snappy Tomato’s lease at The Commons for a couple of weeks to give him leverage to get the equipment.

Kleinhenz said Larken and his wife, Susan, “are very good people,” Kleinhenz told the board.

But the terms of The Commons lease, including a $8,000 personal guarantee from Tim Larken, were an uncomfortable item, Kleinhenz told the commission Friday.

“Part of the discomfort is he has no money,” Kleinhenz said.

Allowing Larken to walk away from the personal guarantee complicates obtaining the equipment because there would be nothing for Kleinhenz to bargain with, he said.

However, Larken never signed a personal guarantee, even though the lease required it, redevelopment commission attorney Stan Gamso said.

Kleinhenz then asked the commission to postpone action on Snappy Tomato for a while until he could settle who owns Snappy Tomato’s equipment.

“I feel at this point every piece of the equipment is mine,” he said. “This is very personal. I’m the little fish. If he’s done, I don’t have a lot to hold against him,” Kleinhenz said. “I want to clarify who owns the equipment.”

Commission members took a few moments to consider allowing Snappy Tomato to stay open until the end of January but learned that the restaurant’s rent debt would then increase to $29,120.14, not including utilities charges.

Snappy Tomato’s equipment was not the commission’s concern as the city has no claim on it, Gamso said.

A two-week extension on acting “wouldn’t have hurt the taxpayers one bit,” Kleinhenz said.

Mayor Kristen Brown told Kleinhenz, a Bartholomew County commissioner, that she understood his position, but the commission’s interest was to the taxpayers of the city of Columbus.

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