Brad Corpening, co-owner of Chops Deli, reported Monday that all Chops locations are currently open for business, and he and business partner Chris Graham are working to repay the debts the company has incurred over the past few years.
Corpening and Graham are also working with a broker to sell three of their current locations: Chops Deli at 5120 S. College Rd. and 7037 Wrightsville Ave., and Chops Diner at 2539 Castle Hayne Rd. The partners hope to continue to operate the downtown location at 130 N. Front St.
“Keeping downtown open long-term remains our primary focus,” Corpening said. “It’s our most profitable location, with the best opportunity for performance. It’s been a rollercoaster for a few weeks but I’ve been catching up on record keeping and seeing sales numbers that are more consistent with what we’re used to seeing for this time of year.”
The owners launched a GoFundMe campaign June 15, in an attempt to generate the funds necessary to keep the downtown Chops Deli location afloat while sorting out companywide financial issues.
Corpening said that while Chops experienced an initial increase in sales when the campaign was launched, sales fell off a bit in the days following, presumably because of uncertainty about whether or not the restaurants were open for business.
He recently posted an update to the GoFundMe campaign site, stating that the more than $10,000 in funds raised would be allocated in the following way: $2,000 to a food vendor, to resolve a past due balance; $6,000 to the landlord of the downtown deli, to resolve a past due balance generated over the past few months, and $2,323.45 to the N.C. Department of Revenue to pay down a past due sales tax balance.
Corpening and Graham have been assigned a state revenue officer to help them work through the process of paying down their current balance and maintaining current sales tax payments.
Corpening said he is paying the Department of Revenue a minimum of $500 each week.
“We are tightening our belts, working on a very fixed income and paying back as much as possible each week in an effort to eradicate our debts,” Corpening said.
Corpening said from the start that the financial situation the company is facing is a symptom of expanding the business without proper planning and support. In borrowing additional money to cover expansion projects, which included renovations, equipment purchases and start-up costs, the company began to incur more and more debt, which sales alone have not been able to cover.
Currently, in addition to paying down debts, Corpening said he and Graham are focused on providing the quality of food and service that Chop’s is known for at all of its locations.
“We’re taking care of our customers and meeting our obligations,” Corpening said. “We’re grateful for the support we’ve received that has allowed us the opportunity to stay open and resolve these issues.”