Cork & Olive Wine Shop Franchise Owners Left High & Dry Michael Probst, franchisor of the Cork & Olive wine shop franchise chain, has shuttered his eight company stores, closed the corporate headquarters and laid off 40 employees.
The nine Cork & Olive franchise owners had an emergency meeting this past Wednesday to figure out how they can survive the demise of their cash-strapped franchisor. The Orlando franchise owner has only been open for a week; other owners in Florida were preparing to open their stores when they got the news.
According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times:
Cork & Olive president Michael Probst said he had been working on the assumption a New York hedge fund was going to invest about $3-million in the company. On Friday, however, the group insisted it take on controlling interest as a condition. Probst balked. On Monday he shut down corporate operations including the headquarters on Race Track Road and company-owned stores in Brandon, Countryside Mall, Largo, Oldsmar, St. Petersburg, Wesley Chapel and South Tampa.
“It’s unfortunate,” Probst said. “We are still trying to get financing, but my conscience would not let me have our people continue working when we were short of money and could not support our franchises.”
Probst started the company in 2004 based on the idea of using wine tastings in a comfortable setting to sell moderately priced wine by the bottle, along with olive oil and spices. Most of the offerings are European, Californian and Australian labels that are thinly distributed in the United States. Cork & Olive, which had a plan for 20 stores soon, started selling franchises in 2006.
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