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The Must Wine Bar Close to Finding Its Way Back to Historic Core

By Ed Fuentes with Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, August 05, 2010, at 07:34PM
theMust Ed Fuentes

The owners of The Must posted this notice on the door of their former 5th street space on July 3, hours after they were unexpectedly put out of business.

One month after their wine bar vanished in the early morning hours, The Must co-owner Rachel Thomas tells blogdowntown they are getting close to securing a new space in the Historic Core. They do not expect to return to the 5th street space the bar had occupied since December of 2008.

Even after a lease gets signed, a reopening would take time. Buildout and permitting could take another six months to a year.

A moving truck pulled up to bar and emptied it shortly after it had closed for the night in the early morning hours of July 3. In the morning, Thomas and co-owner Coly Den Haan received reports that the space had been ransacked, and arrived to find most of the furniture and supplies gone.

The wine bar space, which shared a lease with neighboring hot dog shop Weeneez, had been sold out from under the pair by Weeneez owners Julie Rico and Sid Carter.

What became less clear was what legal recourse the pair had under a complicated operating contract that made them minority owners of Weeneez, LLC, instead of subtenants in the space.

While The Must and Weeneez navigate the arbitration process to determine what, if any, contract terms were violated, The Must last month filed suit against the unknown purchaser of the space, named at the time of filing simply as John Doe. The complaint alleges that the purchaser remains in possession of equipment owned by the bar, is guilty of conspiracy in the changeover and intentionally harmed The Must's business.

On July 28, the bar amended its complaint to name "David A. McGrath" as Doe #1, but further information is hard to find.

A trio of stories published on blogdowntown after the wine bar's generated several hundred comments in support of The Must and decrying its eviction.

Rico recently sent a letter to the board of the neighborhood council asking that they encourage Downtown residents to give the new business that goes into the space a chance.

“I would like to ask you to help usher in the new owner of both spaces," she wrote. "As it is hard enough to open any kind of business downtown let alone with this terribly mean attitude that some people are espousing towards this change over. A welcome instead of a protest would be nice."

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