LAKEWOOD RANCH — Viking Culinary Center may not re-open under the Viking name, but the space will remain a cooking school.
Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, a subsidiary of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, reached an agreement Jan. 31 with the trustee for the bankruptcy case of Extreme Remodelers of Sarasota, the cooking school’s parent company. LWR Main Street LLC has purchased the furniture, fixtures and equipment in the Viking Culinary Center on Lakewood Ranch Main Street to ensure the space is used as is by future tenants.
“We didn’t want someone going in there and changing the aesthetics of the space,” said Julia DeCastro, director of leasing for Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty. “It’s absolutely beautiful.”
The 4,098-square-foot unit will be leased turnkey.
Extreme Remodelers, which did business as Paradise Homes, invested more than $1 million in high-end cabinetry, furnishings, Viking appliances and other design details for the school, which opened in September 2011 as one of 19 Viking cooking schools nationwide and the second school in Florida; it closed suddenly Oct. 24, 2012. DeCastro declined to say how much SMR paid for the unit’s contents.
SMR had moved to recover possession of the Viking Culinary space, after Paradise Homes missed its September and October rent payments. Actions for eviction and breach of contract for more than $15,000 were filed Oct. 19. Extreme Remodelers of Sarasota filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Middle District of Florida Oct. 25, and a trustee was assigned to the case. Chapter 7 filings indicate a liquidation of assets.
DeCastro said restaurateurs and other prospective tenants are showing interest in the space; several tours of the unit scheduled for this week. Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty hopes to re-open the cooking school as quickly as possible, she said.
“We’ve had a ton of interest,” said DeCastro, who manages Lakewood Ranch Main Street. “We really believe in the use (for this space). It’s great for small meetings, corporate parties. It can be more than a culinary school. I don’t think it was necessarily used to its capacity.
“We really don’t want another restaurant,” she said. “We feel like we have a good mix (of tenants).”
DeCastro also said representatives of Viking Range Corp., the industry’s leading manufacturer of professional category appliances, has indicated the company would like to continue its partnership with the new proprietor of the space and keep the Viking Culinary Center name, if the new tenant would like to do so.
While open, the Viking Culinary Center on Main Street offered a variety of cooking classes, while also hosting parties and other events, and selling cookware, Viking appliances and other items. Paradise Homes owner Jim Butler, visionary behind the project, also intended for the venue to create opportunities for his homebuilding customers to try out and purchase Viking appliances and see how to better utilize home space for entertainment.
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