Whiskey Creek restaurants in Mammoth, Bishop close as of January 24In the end, the real estate collapse of 2008 and the weather collapse of 2011-2013 were just too much to overcome for Whiskey Creek restaurants owner Greg Alexander.
Alexander told The Sheet this week that he is closing both restaurants, effective immediately. Employees were to be notified by Friday morning, January 24.
Counting both locations, Whiskey Creek had a total of 100 employees.
Alexander has owned the business for the better part of 15 years.
The business peaked in terms of gross sales in 2005-2006.
Current business has been trending about 33% off that peak.
Alexander explained that a new Mammoth lease had been signed about three years ago to settle a lawsuit with landowner iStar Financial.
The new lease had given both parties a 90-day notice option.
Alexander said iStar Financial, the owner of the “three-corners” property located at the intersection of Main and Minaret in Mammoth, gave him notice on Dec. 5, 2013.
Alexander had hoped to extend the closure date past March 5, but the dismal winter season has him going the opposite way.
The furniture, fixtures and equipment in Whiskey Creek Mammoth and Bishop belong to Sam Walker, the restaurant’s founder.
The prospective new tenant in Mammoth will be Mammoth Brewing Company, which currently rents space within the building.
Mammoth Brewing will now house brewing operations, corporate offices and its tasting room on the premises.
The move makes sense to Mammoth Brewing precisely because it does not need the furniture, fixtures or equipment.
Mammoth Brewing’s Berner Street lease expired at the end of last year. It had been given notice that its lease would not be renewed in April, 2013. Mammoth Brewing is currently being sued by its Berner Street landlord because it has not yet vacated the premises.
“I was initially shocked at being given notice at the beginning of the winter,” said Alexander, “but once I heard about the Mammoth Brewing deal, it all became disturbingly clear to me.”
Mammoth Brewing’s Sean Turner insisted that iStar was the one who had approached him about a lease, which was signed last week. Because of his situation on Berner Street, it was something he felt he had to do. “It’s not personal,” he said. “I like Greg. It’s just business.”
Meanwhile, he said he reached an agreement to settle the dispute with his Berner Street landlord to be out by March 31.
Alexander acknowledges that because both his restaurants were bound together and structured as a C corporation, Bishop could not be separated from Mammoth, forcing the closure of both.
“Bishop as a stand-alone restaurant was and is very successful,” said Alexander. “The last three winters, however, have not been kind.”
Alexander, who has two teenage sons enrolled at Bishop Union High School, is committed to Bishop for at least a few more years and perhaps a lot longer. “I love being here,” he says. “And it’s been a good 15-year run. I don’t regret any of it … but I am brokenhearted, especially for the staffs [in both places].
We would like to end by thanking all our employees for an incredible 15 year ride. We not only worked together, we became family! The friendships that we formed with employees, guests, purveyors and both communities will last a lifetime. We will be forever grateful!
About three or four days ago, I sat down for a good six hours going over the books and I realized … I just couldn’t make it better. It was time.”
Whiskey Creek Mammoth was founded in 1972 by Sam Walker, who later founded Whiskey Creek Bishop in the 1980s. Alexander acquired the businesses in 1999.