Base Camp assets sold at auction

Ryan Hoffman
The door to Base Camp Cafe on Third Street in Rifle remains locked. The restaurant
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

RIFLE — Piece by piece, the items inside the former Base Camp Cafe went to the highest bidder Thursday, generating a gross amount of more than $10,000.

The state seized the restaurant, located in the 100 block of East Third Street in downtown Rifle, on April 22 for unpaid taxes totaling $8,051, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

The exact amount raised from the auction will not be known until the auctioneer and locksmith submit invoices for their services, said Ro Silva, taxation public information and education manager for the state.

The cost of those services will be deducted from the auction proceeds. The state cannot release numbers and does not know if it will recoup the full amount owed until those deductions are made, Silva said.

There is still potential for a family-style restaurant similar to the Base Camp in Rifle.

Dozens of potential buyers and interested individuals trickled in and out of the building over the course of approximately three hours Thursday.

From the onset, auctioneer Buster Cattles, who was contracted by the state, said he understood there were some strong emotions surrounding the business’ closure, especially among people who claimed to have lent certain items to the restaurant. At the end of the day, though, the business owner was the one at fault.

“It’s what they call a trust tax, they were entrusted by the state of Colorado to pay it,” Cattles said, noting that like many in attendance, he too had dined at the restaurant. “They didn’t (pay), that’s why we’re here today. It’s not my fault … it’s not the Department of Revenue’s fault, it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s one (person’s) fault: the owner that’s on the sales tax license. May be good, may be bad, but that’s the way I feel about it, and that’s the truth of it. They had the money … Just keep that in mind: It’s your money we’re trying to get back today … ”

In addition to the back taxes owed to the state, the business also owes $11,476 in unremitted sales tax to the city of Rifle. If the auction proceeds are enough to pay the full balance owed to the state, any remaining proceeds will go toward the amount owed to the city, said Marcia Arnhold, Rifle finance director.

Not everything in the building was auctioned. Some people were able to prove that a particular item did not belong to the business, such as restroom fixtures, and therefore were exempt from the auction.

Among those items was a BB gun mounted on the wall. Jim Gerloff, the owner of the gun, said he was able to prove ownership of the item.

Gerloff was part of a group who would assemble at the Base Camp each morning to, as he said, “solve the world’s problems and come back the next day to solve them again.”

Entering the second hour of the auction, it looked like one person might walk away with everything. Jason Higens, owner of Brickhouse Pizzeria in Rifle and Silt, put in a $10,000 bulk bid for every item in the auction.

Late in the auction though, Higens was informed that the total amount from individual bids had surpassed $10,000 — effectively negating his bulk bid.

Although he was unsure of what he would do with everything, Higens said the opportunity to essentially buy a restaurant for $10,000 was too good to pass on. There is still potential for a family-style restaurant similar to the Base Camp in Rifle, he added.

So far there has been interest in the space but nothing serious, said Dan Meskin, the property manager. Meskin said he is confident somebody will eventually decide to move in and open a restaurant.

If that happens, Gerloff said he and his buddies — who have since migrated across the street to Shooters Grill — will be ready to give the new business a shot.

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