CORK & OLIVE: The Probst Method of Guilt Avoidance


A key skill for CEOs of imploded franchise companies is denial, accompanied by a ninja-like avoidance of any admission of responsibility. Unsurprisingly, that same trait usually helped them get in that situation in the first place.

Cork & Olive’s Michael Probst demonstrated his prowess in another hardhitting interview with Tampa Bay Online: Cork & Olive Owner Hopes To Reopen Stores Here are a few of the implicit questions asked, and the answers given.

Q. Why is the Northwoods Cork & Olive store closed?
A. “Repairs”
This lie is a non-issue for both Probst and the writer, who refers to the dishonesty of the “Closed for repairs” sign as a “euphemism.”

Q. Why did Cork & Olive parent Probst’s Estate Wine Group file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection?
A. “a key investor backed out of a deal”
Well done. It was the fault of a “key investor.” No one will point out that if he did not invest, he was not an investor. And if he was not an investor, how was he “key”?

Q. Did Probst leave franchisees high and dry?
A. Not at all. He “set them free.”
Brilliant! Bravo! Franchisees each paid you $60,000 franchise fees only to be uncaged and set free like little songbirds!

Q. Will the store open
A. Shortly. “We are waiting on an investment group to step in and take over”
Not the masterful subtlety. A “key” investor group would have been overkill. He doesn’t say there is one, just that they’re waiting. Of course, the reason he originally gave for the investor backing out was his unwillingness to let them “take over.” But that was weeks ago.

Q. Why did the Cork & Olive franchise company fail?
A. “‘I really think that, looking back, it grew too fast,’ Probst said.”
That darn company! How many times did he tell it to slow down? But you know companies… got a minds of their own. Spending like drunken vintners. Running up millions in debt.

It’s a good thing for Michael Probst set the franchisees free and got out of there when he did! Think of what that darn Cork & Olive might have done to his good name!

15 thoughts on “CORK & OLIVE: The Probst Method of Guilt Avoidance

  • July 23, 2008 at 2:09 pm
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    First I want to say that the ADMIN is correct with the BS answers that Probst gave although it sounds like Augenti might have given them as well.

    Q. Why is the Northwoods Cork & Olive store closed?
    A. Repairs – Augenti’s idea to post these signs in all the stores – maybe they were thinking the word repair in hopes of repairing the stores image – nothing was broken except dedicated employees hearts.

    Q. Why did Cork & Olive parent Probst’s Estate Wine Group file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection?
    A.Key investors did back out ALTHOUGH he had a difficult time just finding investors to continue to support his lifestyle and when the KEY Investors became more aware of this – well – they got smart and said forget it Michael support your own lifestyle. The company filed chapter 11 because it needed over 5million dollars not 2.5 million like some of the other articles suggested. Michael’s dinners over one year tallied more than several of the employees salaries combined – once again his lifestyle thinking image is everything and a man’s word is nothing. (maybe in Germany Michael but not in AMERICA) How true that was with him – open mouth out comes lies.
    Q. Did Probst leave franchisees high and dry?
    A. He would not allow the “training team” to actually do their job. The training team knew what needed to be done yet Probst and his partner Nelson believed the time spent should be on other things like having a meeting at a local starbucks to discuss the next strategy of where will we get money to pay for mikey’s dinners and stephie’s vacation. The franchisee’s were left high and dry and I’m terribly sorry about that – so far they’re doing ok but they do continue to need the assistance and training that was promised to them. Once again thanks Mikey and Stephie.

    Q. Will the store open
    A. Supposedly there is a group of investors – will not mention names here – that have been looking into reopening the stores. I do not think it’s fair that Michael Probst and Stephanie Nelson are able to just walk away from all the vendors without being responsible to pay them – why should the NEW group have to pay for Probst and Nelson’s mistakes. I say FILE CHAPTER 7, liquidate – sell assets and pay these poor vendors! open under a new name! Let Probst and Nelson pay for the Taxes out of their own pockets since they were aware of the severity of the situation!

    Q. Why did the Cork & Olive franchise company fail?\
    A. I will agree they grew to fast ALTHOUGH PROBST knew what he was doing – he was constantly being told to pay vendors and get the existing stores up and running before opening a new one. All he saw was his mortgage being paid, his Caddy and wife’s Mercedes, his lawn and pool man, his wife’s trips to Germany, his $400 nightly dinners (which continue believe it or not), and Stephanie could not live without her Mercedes and her $100,000 year salary. I mean come on!

    we have yet to hear any outcome of the court hearings. Many of us anticipate hearing some good news like – PROST AND NELSON FOUND GUILTY OF TAX EVASION. They also need to let the ex employees know WHEN WILL WE GET OUR FINAL PAYCHECK – we didn’t make the kind of money you people did, we have to mow our own lawns, pool – hell we can’t even afford a swimsuit right now! And we eat dinner at Olive Garden not at Donatellos or the Hyatt!
    Do we hold a grudge? hell yes we do – no warning – no severance – no payout for unused sick or vacation time – oh wait – NO FINAL PAYCHECK! Lies lies lies – that’s all we ever heard!

  • July 27, 2008 at 11:30 pm
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    Couldn’t have said it better my self!

    Super German is still in the USA. Can’t believe he hasn’t taken off yet.
    Unfortunately he thinks Americans are so stupid and if he talks long enough they will believe him.

    There are still several lawsuits against him personally. So he will either have to file bankruptcy personally or he will have to get some of that money hidden away in off shore accounts.

    Have all the former employees gone into the restaurants were he frequents, have you all sat down near SG at the starbucks. Maybe he would be kind enough to buy you a cup of coffee? Ha, he wouldn’t even know who you were. I don’t think the evil German has a heart.

    Still hoping for the exit from USA in handcuffs, or his tiny white ass getting on a plane sitting in coach.

  • July 28, 2008 at 10:28 am
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    Mr. Probst went bankrupt 4 times in Germany before Cork & Olive. I can’t believe why our government didn’t do their homework when they let them getting into this country.

  • July 28, 2008 at 12:52 pm
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    Bankrupt 4 times in Germany – I was recently told the same thing. His used car business was one type of business another type was a wine bar and i did not hear what the other two business were about. Each time he did the same thing, he had a great concept, made a bit a money, treated his employee as though they were his slaves, lived as though he was king of crap and then after he couldn’t find any more investors, they left him and he bellied up and then he moved onto his next victims and next venture. Unfortunately the government does not look into somebody is moving here to start up a business , they just view it as they will be able to make more money on taxes – oh wait – not from anyone named Probst – he is exempt from paying any type of taxes to any type of government. what the hell???? why is he allowed to operate in this country and why isn’t anything being done about his obligations to pay, in the very least State of FLorida sales and use tax and payroll taxes? After all – he has basically STOLEN money from his employees by not paying these taxes. And to top it off – my social security earnings are now screwed up. yet he continues to be a free man? what is wrong with this picture. can anyone answer that??? can anyone tell any of us what has been happening with the bankrupty procedures? and what’s going on with Ms. Nelson? she still insists she is not obligated to the company? say whut?

  • August 3, 2008 at 8:21 am
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    SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME THAT MICHAEL AND STEPHANIE ARE NOT JUST GOING TO WALK AWAY FREE FROM ALL OF THIS MESS THAT THEY PUT THIS COMPANY THROUGH???!!! THEY HAVE GOT TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TAXES AND RIPPING OFF THE NEW AND EXISTING FRANCHISEES!! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE HONESTY AND RESPECT OF THE AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM???? AND as an FYI…. word on the street has it the STEPHENIE NELSON IS PACKING UP AND MOVING TO CALIFORNIA WITH AND FINALLY GOING TO GET MARRIED AND SET UP SHOP THERE! INTERESTING EH?

  • August 7, 2008 at 11:16 pm
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    Just though you should all know that Reiner just bought Cork and Olive and is planing on trying to sell franchises. Proceed with caution folks. He is in business with Probst and has been in business with Probst. So if you even think about doing business with this smooth talker, remember he is Probst “mini me”.

  • August 8, 2008 at 5:53 pm
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    Which did Reiner buy – Cork & Olive Franchise or Estate Wine??? I thought Reiner’s plan was to put Cork & Olive Franchise into bankruptcy (so he could screw the current creditors) and THEN buy Cork & Olive Franchise.

    I know Estate Wine is in bankruptcy, but I didn’t hear anything about Cork & Olive Franchise filing for bankruptcy???

  • August 20, 2008 at 7:11 pm
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    Wanda…why you so angry. You seemd so nice when you was our bookeeper.
    Are you still pissed that Miss Stephanie kicked you out-a the front office and you had to sit in a back office.

    you need to let go………don’t be so pissed….after all you left with all of your paychecks

  • August 21, 2008 at 10:54 am
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    I am not the bookeeper. Just a concern person who is upset about the injustice of the Super German and his clan.

  • September 20, 2008 at 4:45 pm
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    heard that mikey is opening his own distributorship with Ms. A. Seems he’s opening his mouth a little to wide again and spilling out lies to potential investors and told many in the orlando area about his new venture and has received LOANS and FINANCING from banks and such inthe ORLANDO area – Bet Mr. Sarasota C&O would like to hear about this one!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • October 6, 2008 at 8:27 pm
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    I certainly hope Mr. Probst is doing well and continues to get people to pay for his rent, clothing,coffee, his wifes gucci bags and his $400 dinners because he certainly made it very diffcult for all the people who used to work for him to make his lifestyle a happy one. Many of us are still finding it very difficult because of the way he just DUMPED US without prior warning. He didn’t care in the least that he jerked our health insurance out from underneath us (WITHOUT WARNING AGAIN), nor does he care that several of us were EVICKED from our homes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU MICHAEL AND THANK YOU MS. AUGENTI FOR CONTIUING TO BACK THIS SO CALLED PIECE OF CRAP!!!!!!!!!!! YOU GUYS DESERVE EACH OTHER. One day you’ll both get WHAT YOU DESERVE and I hope for Mr. Probsts sake…. he does’nt drop the soap!!!!!!!!!!!or i hope somebody gets a picture of him trying to pick it up!!!!!!!!!!!!! and what ever happend to the other snake who was twofaced to everyone…. STEPHANIE NELSON………………….. RUN AWAY BRIDE!

  • December 29, 2008 at 7:16 pm
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    well now everyone might find this to be interesting: http://www.sunbiz.org. document number P08000107072. MIchael Probst, CEO of his new company MERGER AND ACQUISITION CORP. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????????? HOW CAN THIS MAN BE ALLOWED TO OPEN ANOTHER BUSINESS WHILE SCREWING ALL HIS OLD EMPLOYEES,FRANCHISEES AND INVESTORS? WHAT THE HELL?????? This was just done on 12-4-08. I MEAN SERIOUSLY ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

  • December 30, 2008 at 6:02 am
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    The new corporation’s address is a house that sold for $399,500 in 2006 (That would be the equivalent of 6.6 $60,000 franchise fees.)

    Good to see the bankruptcy hasn’t taken a toll on Mr. P’s lifestyle. Click below for the property listing:

    PROBST, MICHAEL
    418 CASCADE LANE
    PALM HARBOR FL 34684

  • December 30, 2008 at 6:41 am
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    that’s when HE brought the house that is-with OUR money, the Franchisee’s Money and the investors money. And here I am – trying to find a job and trying to stay in my 1 BD APT! What is wrong with this picture I ask you????? I’m sure he doesn’t do the yard – where does he get the cash to pay for yardmen? I’m sure he Doesn’t clean the house – nor his wife since they are used to slaves – so who does? things that make ya go hmm.

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