Regulars say Base Camp Cafe was true to its name
For frequent customers of the Base Camp Cafe, the Rifle restaurant held true to its name and served as a regular rendezvous where one could have a cup of coffee and shoot the time chatting with some familiar faces.
Those same customers were saddened when they recently found a locked door and notice stating the Colorado Department of Revenue had seized the restaurant for unpaid taxes.
“It was a shock,” said Chub Squires, a regular at the Base Camp. “I was like ‘what the heck?’”
State officials seized the business Friday afternoon. According to the notice posted on the front door, the business owes the state $8,051. A public sale of the assets — including personal property, furniture, fixtures, equipment and inventory — is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 5 at the site, located at 120 E. Third St. If the full amount is paid before that date, the auction will be canceled.
The businesses remained shuttered Wednesday afternoon. Theresa L. Hangs, who was listed as the taxpayer on the notice from the Department of Revenue, could not be reached for comment.
Squires, who said he stopped in the Base Camp nearly every day for about the past 10 years, described the establishment as social gathering place for regulars such as himself.
“I miss it,” he said. “The girls were fun, coffee was good, food was pretty good. … I just hope they open it back up, honestly.”
Whether that happens remains to be seen.
Dan Meskin, property manager for the building that houses the Base Camp, said on Monday that he was not notified of the seizure prior to the Department of Revenue coming in Friday and changing the locks. He did not have additional information, other than assuming the Base Camp would have to pay the amount owed or have its personal property auctioned off.
Ownership of much of the property in the restaurant is another question.
One day before the seizure, Little Paws LLC, which provided an address in Sheridan, Wyoming, filed a financing statement notifying that it has a lien on much of the property in the restaurant under a security agreement entered into by the two parties this past March, according to records filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
As for how that might affect the scheduled auction, the matter is really between the creditor and the business, said Ro Silva, taxation public information and education manager for the state. The taxpayer must satisfy its debt with the state, Silva added.
That debt is not the extent of the financial woes facing the business.
Marcia Arnhold, city of Rifle finance director, said municipal records show the Base Camp, doing business as Special T’s LLC, owes $11,476 in sales tax to the city.
While Squires and others were surprised, Don Locke said it was easy to see the “handwriting on the wall.” A regular at the business for the past 30 years, during various incarnations and multiple locations, Locke said he could sense the distress, adding that he does not see the seizure as a sign of the economic climate in Rifle.
Silva with the Department of Revenue said the business was notified of its delinquency prior to the seizure.
“It’s not as if this was a surprise (to the Base Camp),” Silva said.
As the owner of Rifle Lock & Safe, Locke found himself in the uncomfortable but familiar situation of being one of, if not the first to learn of the seizure Friday — the state had called him to change the locks on the business.
Locke, like Squires, described the Base Camp as a social gathering spot where you could walk in for breakfast and 90 percent of the time you would see the same group of “old timers” sitting at the first table on the left.
While he was uncertain about the current circumstances, Locke said a concept similar to Base Camp would still work in Rifle.
The Base Camp is at least the second high-profile business seizure related to unpaid taxes in Rifle recently.
In February, the city of Rifle seized the personal assets of Cruise Control Auto & Truck Accessories Inc. The business owed nearly $100,000 in unremitted sales tax to the city.
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It was a close game, but after some thrilling back-and-forth plays the Rifle Bears were able to pull off the 28-20 victory over The Academy on May 1.