What a whirlwind. Following Monday's news about The Cat & Fiddle's impending closure and today's impassioned plea from ownership, it seems that a good portion of Hollywood has been near riotous, with plenty of vitriol hurled towards Jesse Shannon and Branch Properties, out of Atlanta. As it turns out, the latter isn't even involved with the property at all (which was incorrectly attributed to them in this LA Times piece), though plenty of unwitting folks at Branch have been receiving hate mail.
"It's really in poor taste," says Jesse Shannon, the managing member of an LLC investor group that has owned the Cat & Fiddle property for the past decade. "I understand that people are upset, but there's a better way to handle things than sending me personal emails." When reached by phone, Shannon was able to shed some light on the deal that has led to the iconic 32 year old restaurant's closure.
"[Owner] Ashlee Gardner has been a very good tenant, and this wasn't a decision we made lightly. The problem is, when looking at their sales history, we simply didn't have confidence that they could pay rent that was even close to market value."
"We began having conversations with them six months ago, to give them plenty of time to relocate. It's a bitter pill to swallow, and not something we wanted to do, but we have investors too, and that's why tough decisions have to get made."
For now, Shannon and his LLC group are laying low, waiting for a new lease agreement to be finalized and dust to settle before announcing the next tenant. He did say this, though: "We're going to pour several million dollars into this project, to take things back to the 1920's, the way it originally was. We're using photographs to really give back that feel."
As for the new operator, Shannon says only that the classification that a chain would be coming in is "totally inaccurate." Instead, expect an "outstanding, first class operator" with a name that should be familiar once it's revealed.
Until more is known, grab a drink and hit the patio one last time at The Cat & Fiddle.