Cork & Olive Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

corkandolivelogo (Unhappy Franchisee) Here’s a big surprise: Cork & Olive, the Tampa-based wine bar franchisor that shuttered its headquarters and eight company-owned stores last week, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Hillsborough court yesterday.

Last week’s Cork & Olive HQ laid off 40 Cork & Olive employees and left the owners of nine franchised locations (and others in development) scrambling for a survival plan. The Orlando franchise location had only been open for a week.

The company line, as reported by the Tampa Bay Business Journal, was that Cork & Olive founder and president Michael Probst “had been working on the assumption a New York hedge fund was going to invest about $3-million in the company. But when the fund insisted on taking a controlling interest, Probst opted to shut down instead.”

Why Would Michael Probst Opt Refuse to Cede Control of an Insolvent Company?

Let’s get this straight: Probst opted to take a poison pill, like some maniac villain lover from a 3rd rate movie (If I can’t have her, NO ONE WILL!)? That didn’t make any sense, since surely the stranded franchisees could come after him for wooing – then abandoning – them. No… Probst’s need to close and declare bankruptcy continues to become clearer with the information being posted here, which alleges that Probst, Cork & Olive Franchise Corp., and affiliate Estate Wine Group were the target of several lawsuits and already owed on judgements in excess of $1 Million.

Will the Cork & Olive franchise owners band together and carry on? Will they overcome this temporary setback and become more successful with Michael Probst? We’re pulling for them. Stay tuned for the next episode of Days of Wine & Franchises… here on UnhappyFranchisee.com

FranchisePick.Com: Cork & Olive Wine Franchisor Folds; Franchisees Scramble to Survive,

FranchisePick.Com: Cork & Olive Franchise Corp. Collapse: What’s the REAL Story?,

Unhappy Franchisee: What REALLY Uncorked Cork & Olive Franchise Corp? ,

Unhappy Franchisee: Cork & Olive Wine Shop Franchise Owners Left High & Dry

ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH MICHAEL PROBST & CORK & OLIVE FRANCHISE? WHAT DO YOU THINK? SHARE A COMMENT BELOW.

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23 thoughts on “Cork & Olive Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

  • June 12, 2008 at 7:37 pm
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    not for nuthin but the friggin franchise owners are to blame……especially that sarasota guy…back in new york we woulda rubbed him out…..ya don’t pay ya don’t play…………why do we have so much moolah owed to us and now the bastards that put us und-a are cry-in.

    pay your friggin bills you dip shits………..whats up with you holdin secret meetins…..fagetaboutit. …..pay mikey what ya owe him………..you good fa nuthin pieces of crap.

  • June 13, 2008 at 6:04 pm
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    Dear Susan,
    What???? “Franchise owners are to blame. ” Are you serious. I started not to respond to such a stupid comment, but I figured you needed someone to talk to. No doubt you forgot to medicate.

  • June 13, 2008 at 6:23 pm
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    Dear Wanda,
    Not to take sides here but….. it is somewhat true that the “franchisees” did owe the company quite bit of money. For whatever reason they “decided” they didn’t need pay their bills. Even though “susan” does need to medicate she does have a valid point. And I’m not taking sides with Mr P by a long shot…. but yes it is very true that the franchisees….including the sarasota location didn’t pay THEIR bills. ok

  • June 13, 2008 at 6:28 pm
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    I guess the franchisees didn’t want to pay their bills because they realized what a shyster Michael was. He was their best friend when he was drooling over the money they were giving him, then ignored their calls and didn’t offer help once they opened.

  • June 14, 2008 at 11:27 pm
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    To set the record straight – the Sarasota group had a development agreement for manatee and Sarasota counties. The agreement called for certain obligations to be fulfilled by Michael at very specific intervals. Obviously, these did not happen. The development fee was well more than the disputed A/P account – six figures more.

    We’re not even factoring in liquidated damages for Michael’s inability to procure product for the season and his out right lies about the margins he sold us on. This is in addition to the thousands of dollars he cost us all during build out phase by using his “spec” vendors. When trying to reconcile anything with anyone from corporate you would routinely find the files missing or questions would just go unanswered.

    To say the franchisees tanked the company is juvenile at best, and speaks volumes about the incompetence of some of the corporate employees that Michael surrounded himself with. He kept your heads buried in the sand. The truth will come out and he will be tried for his crimes. Stay tuned.

    And, a couple of the franchise owners actually stepped in to help find financing
    and even a very qualified candidate to buy the company. Michael ran everyone off with his bizarre behavior and cooked books.

    Susan??? wow, no need to comment on that. Too bad for Brooklyn.

  • June 19, 2008 at 4:52 pm
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    If I were a franchisee I wouldn’t have paid anything either. He didn’t perform his end of the 10 year bargain. Well said Rick!

  • June 23, 2008 at 5:20 pm
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    Has anyone thought that when things starts getting a little rougher that Mr. Probst might decide to leave the country? and then he might be home free without any obligations whatsoever??? Does anyone know of a way to make sure that he cannot leave? Do the airlines needs to be alerted or whom ever can be contacted so this cannot happen??? ANY IDEAS??? We cannot allow him to just pick up and leave!

  • June 25, 2008 at 9:05 pm
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    OK, SO Friday is the first hearing for chapter 11, should be interesting. Will update as I learn more. Attornies have been getting earfuls of information on both parties…………… should be very interesting wish I could be in the courtroom to offer Mikey a cig and a glass of vinegar.

  • June 25, 2008 at 9:08 pm
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    should somebody contact Ms. Nelson and tell her to stay in Mexico next week while she is on a “retreat.” come on! Trust me when I tell you that she is more greedy than we ever thought was possible… and just as greedy as her sugardaddy.

  • June 27, 2008 at 6:06 pm
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    It will be fun to watch Probst sit in court with out a cig in his hand. Hated being around his cloud of smoke.
    Let everyone know when the court date is set. Would love to be in the court room.

  • July 10, 2008 at 12:58 am
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    July 11th, this Friday- court time!

  • July 10, 2008 at 1:07 pm
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    Is anyone here planning to go to court tomorrow?

    I shall deputize you as correspondents. Also, snap a photo with a cell phone and email it to unhappyfranchisee[at]gmail.com. It may be a start of your new career as photojournalist.

    Or other photos to email. I’m really curious as to what these people look like.

    Tattoo pics definitely a plus.

  • August 3, 2008 at 8:22 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?

  • October 6, 2008 at 8:26 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 7:15 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 29, 2008 at 7:49 pm
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    AND while you are visiting the website, you might want to go ahead and type in deborah augenti name under WINE DISTRIBUTORS INC which was created march 08. Perhaps they both have been wheeling and dealing with this for sometime now and now have the opportunity to forge ahead. Hmm. And look who is the CFO??? seems a man who was going to be part of the “hedge fund” takeover for C&O, interesting wouldn’t you say? what’s next for the world of crooks?

  • Pingback:CORK & OLIVE: Michael Probst Launches Exciting New Venture

  • February 11, 2009 at 11:16 pm
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    shouldn’t there be a new breaking story about chapter 7 now? that came down a few weeks ago. rumor is feb 17 there will be an auction at oldsmar store and short time late st tampa. rainer and his group of commanches are tryng to buy wesley and some guy name hank trying to buy brandon. omg… will this ever end? and will i ever get my final paycheck????????

  • February 12, 2009 at 10:55 pm
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    The German’s are here on a visa-
    why oh why after all of this, aren’t they escorted out of the country? Our A.. hole quota in the United States is filled. We don’t need any more from other countries!

  • February 14, 2009 at 9:17 am
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    Wanda:
    The U.S. Dept. of State regulates Visas. http://travel.state.gov

    The “Germans” may be here on what’s called an E-2 Visa. An E-2 Visa allows citizens of certain foreign countries (including Germany) to bypass a lot of immigration requirements for their entire families. From Wikipedia:
    “Individuals who wish to invest in the United States may be able to obtain an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. The E-2 Visa applicant must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce. The purpose of the individual’s entry must be to carry out substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the United States and the treaty country; or, to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the individual has invested; or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.”
    E-2 Visas are granted for a 2 year period and are generally easy to renew. However, the status of the investment must be maintained. According to the State Dept.:
    “The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise…. The investment must be in a real operating commercial enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify…. The investment may not be marginal. It must have the capacity to generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
    The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not considered to be at risk.
    The investor must be coming to the United States solely to develop and direct the enterprise…”

    While Probst certainly had a significant economic impact on many, I doubt that the intent of the E-2 Investor Visa is to enable a foreign citizen to collect $60K franchise fees from US citizens then abandon them without fulfilling the commitment of the contract.
    Anyone care to ask the U.S. Dept. of State about that?
    http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1273.html

  • February 14, 2009 at 9:55 am
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    probst is here on an E-2 visa. matter of fact- i know someone who has a copy of it. and a copy of his passport HAHA. this is no joke. this is for real. what can we do?

  • February 14, 2009 at 11:59 pm
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    Lets all start writing to the above address.

    Thank you admin. The info hopefully will help get a few of the thieving Germans from our soil. Any hope the U.S. will remove some thieving Americans?

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