Gusano's Owner Sued Over Unpaid Loans

Gusano's Owner Sued Over Unpaid Loans
Gusano's former location in Little Rock's River Market. (Tre Baker)

It looks like legal problems are on the menu for Tim Chappell, owner of Gusano’s Chicago-Style Pizzeria.

In May, Clarendon’s Merchants & Planters Bank sued Hendrix Brands Inc., which owns Gusano’s, alleging it owes nearly $370,000 for loans for “Hendrix’s two failed restaurant ventures in Little Rock,” according to its lawsuit filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court.

Chappell, principal owner and operator of Hendrix, was also named in the lawsuit because he personally guaranteed the loans. Hendrix Brands had plans to operate a barbecue restaurant called Hickory Joe’s at 400 E. Third St. in Little Rock, but it never opened.

The lawsuit said that back in December 2016, Hendrix borrowed $200,000 from Enterprise Financial Solutions Inc. of Little Rock for equipment and renovations to Gusano’s and for Hickory Joe’s.

In October 2017, Hendrix Brands borrowed another $194,700 from EFS to buy more restaurant equipment for Gusano’s and Hickory Joe’s.

M&P Bank acquired the loans from EFS and alleged that Hendrix Brands “failed and refused to make the re-quired monthly payments” owed to the bank starting in September 2018. As of April 9, the bank said it was owed $368,300 and wanted to take possession of the equipment used as collateral for the loan.

The bank is represented by attorney Mark Hodge at the Barber Law Firm in Little Rock.

As of Thursday, Hendrix Brands had not filed its response to the lawsuit.

We tried to reach Chappell on his cellphone, but he didn’t answer. His voicemail box was full, preventing us from leaving a message.

This isn’t the only legal issue Hendrix Brands is facing. Back in April, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza issued an order evicting Gusano’s from its River Market District location for not paying its rent.

Its landlord, Three Thirteen Clinton LLC, had sued the restaurant, which began operating in 2004, for back rent and said it owed $46,400 as of April.

Three Thirteen Clinton is represented by attorney Jim Jackson of North Little Rock. Hendrix Brands didn’t bother to file an answer to the lawsuit, which resulted in the default judgment.

Piazza said in his order that a hearing date would be set to determine damages for unpaid rent, interest and late fees. As of Thursday, though, a date had not been set.