As claims for unpaid invoices for meats, fruits, vegetables and more continue to pile up, the remaining store locations run by suburban supermarket chain Joe Caputo & Sons appear headed to the auction block this spring.
On April 11, Chicago-based produce supplier Anthony Marano Company notified a federal judge it intended to use the power granted to it under a temporary restraining order to auction off Joe Caputo & Sons’ remaining assets, including its stores in northwest suburban Palatine, Des Plaines and Algonquin, to help resolve debts racked up by the grocer.
According to the motion filed Monday, Marano and Caputo’s have hired Murray Wise Associates and Paine Wetzel to conduct the auction. The motion does not state when the auction may be held. However, numerous published reports indicate the sale will take place May 12, and the stores are expected to remain open until the sale. Some reports have indicated there is a chance some of the stores could continue operating even after the auction, should Joe Caputo & Sons reach such an agreement with the buyers.
“It is in the best interests of all parties in this case to sell, via auction, all of the assets owned by Joe Caputo and Sons Inc., Joe Caputo and Sons Produce-Palatine Inc., and Joe Caputo and Sons- Algonquin, Inc., as well as the assets owned by the related entities … so that the value of the assets are maximized and protracted litigation and expense minimized for all concerned,” Marano’s motion said.
The auction would come about three months after Marano first secured the court order effectively granting it operational control of the supermarket chain and its stores to satisfy a $3.6 million bill Marano said Caputo’s owed Marano for unpaid invoices for fruits and vegetables delivered to Caputo’s suburban stores since June 2015.
Joe Caputo & Sons is not affiliated with the Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets chain, also operating in Chicago’s suburbs.
Marano had already moved quickly to close Joe Caputo’s Elk Grove Village location in mid-February. The court filing said any assets remaining from the Elk Grove store or any assets owned by Caputo’s in a vacant storefront at The Oaks shopping center in Des Plaines would be excluded from the pending auction. In late March, a Minnesota-based lender had sued Joe Caputo & Sons for the rights to auction off those particular assets to satisfy debts owed by the grocer.
As of April 12, the judge presiding in the case had not yet issued a decision on Marano’s auction request.
The auction request comes as legal actions continue to mount against Caputo’s. On April 11, for instance, Joe Caputo’s asked the federal judge to transfer to Chicago federal court a breach of contract case pending against it in California state court by sushi vendor, Advanced Fresh Concepts, which said they hadn’t been paid since January 2015, and two cases brought by suppliers of meat, nuts, produce and other food items, identified in the court documents as Geraldo Inc. and Bon Ton Food Service, who said they similarly had not been paid.
Those added to a growing list of other food suppliers who said Joe Caputo’s had stopped paying them at some point in 2015.
Joe Caputo’s is represented in the actions by attorneys with the firm of Herzog & Schwartz, of Chicago. Marano is represented by attorney Robert B. Marcus, of Maksimovich & Associates, of Lyons.