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October 24, 2013
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Little Annies’ items featured on auction-service website

Need a good deal on several cases of bottled Corona?

What about Old West memorabilia or industrial-sized bottles of Teriyaki sauce?

The Colorado state Department of Revenue’s upcoming auction of items inside the former Little Annie’s Eating House promises all of that and more, including pots and pans, ovens and stoves, beer coolers, mixing machines, tables, chairs and barstools — just about anything people would need, collectively, to open their own restaurant.

The auction will be held at the padlocked 517 E. Hyman Ave. eatery at 11 a.m. Tuesday. It will be conducted by Buster’s Cattle Auction Service of Grand Junction, and photos of many items up for sale can be found on www.bcauction.net. Click on the link on the lower left side of the home page that says, “Upcoming Auctions.”

Money raised through the auction will be applied toward the $44,000-plus state sales-tax bill that led to Little Annie’s shutdown by revenue authorities on Oct. 15. The restaurant also owes the city of Aspen $12,875 in unpaid sales taxes dating back to mid-July. It’s not clear, though, whether the city would be second in line for any revenue garnered through the auction that exceeds the state’s tax debt. Former employees and vendors also are said to be owed money.

In a new development Wednesday regarding the 41-year-old ­restaurant and watering hole — a homey place some regard as an Aspen institution ­ — a hearing was scheduled in Aspen Municipal Court on the city’s tax issue. No one showed up to represent Little Annie’s though, leading Assistant City Attorney Debbie Quinn to postpone the hearing on the tax violation to next week.

Today, local lawyer Jeff Wertz will meet with former employees of the restaurant at noon on the sidewalk outside of Annie’s front door. Though he doesn’t officially represent any of the restaurant’s estimated 40 workers yet, he said Wednesday that he is trying to help them by providing information about their rights to lost wages, unemployment benefits and related issues.

“Every single employee is out at least one paycheck,” Wertz said, adding that he first met with about a dozen concerned employees on Sunday. “I want to help them preserve their rights to make a wage claim.”

An issue that has popped up in the last week, he said, is that the state has incomplete information about the workers’ incomes, which could affect their ability to receive unemployment compensation or impact the amounts of the payments themselves.

“Their pay stubs don’t jive with what little information was given to the state,” Wertz said.

Wertz, and employees speaking privately, say restaurant owner Ed Dingilian, who lives out of state, has provided no information about plans to pay workers or others who are owed by his company, Little Annie’s Restaurant LLC. But Wertz spoke with a local attorney who may be representing the company in some of the matters.

“He has pledged cooperation,” Wertz said of the attorney, adding that he had no details of how Dingilian or the attorney will cooperate.

As for the auction, Wertz said he would be surprised if the state raises enough money to satisfy its own tax bill.

Any amount above the $44,551 owed to the state would be held by a state district court office in Denver. Employees might be eligible for it, but so might the city of Aspen.

“Our argument would be that we’d be second,” City Attorney Jim True said Wednesday. “We do our best to recoup money, but it’s often difficult.”

A business owner who shuts down an operation and misses tax payments might have available money. However, sometimes they find ways to hide behind a corporate shield, both Wertz and True suggested.

asalvail@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Oct 25, 2013 02:56PM Published Oct 25, 2013 02:56PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.