October 3, 2018

Downtown Hartford's Sarah's Coffee House files Ch. 11 bankruptcy

HBJ PHOTO | JOE COOPER
HBJ PHOTO | JOE COOPER
Sarah's Coffee House in downtown Hartford remained open Wednesday, a day after its owner filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday.

Sarah's Coffee House in downtown Hartford filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday, as an unpaid rent lawsuit filed by its landlord was scheduled to head to trial, according to court records.

The coffee house at 257 Asylum St., owned by James Beaulieu, remained open for business Wednesday morning, a day after Sarah's Coffee House Inc. petitioned the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Hartford, reporting that the company's liabilities outweighed its assets.

Neither Beaulieu nor his bankruptcy attorney responded to messages left seeking comment Wednesday morning.

Sarah's claimed assets of $29,500 and liabilities of $62,000.

Landlord Hotel Royal LLC -- which is owned by Ron Morneault -- filed suit against Sarah's in July in state housing court, alleging the business had failed to pay $16,000 in rent. Beaulieu's attorney on Tuesday asked the judge in that matter to stay the proceeding because the business had filed for Ch. 11, records show.

Morneault and his wife also own Trumbull Street apparel retailer Morneault's Stackpole Moore Tryon.

Attorneys representing Hotel Royal in the state court lawsuit didn't respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

The coffee house's bankruptcy filing reported that, as of Monday, it owed the back rent as well as $30,000 in state sales tax, $5,000 in federal tax, nearly $4,000 to Eversource Energy, and other debts.

Founded in Sept. 2015, Sarah's is one of a growing number of benefit corporations in Connecticut. Benefit corporations are for-profit businesses subject to the same tax treatment and organizational structure as other for-profit companies, under Connecticut law, but their mission also includes pursuing some philanthropic efforts.

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