Thursday, November 26, 2015

Farmers' Cabinet evicted; $1.3 million in the hole

Good Fortunes LLC, which owns the space once occupied by the bar at 1111-13 Walnut St., won a default judgment of $1,334,572.72. Bar owners Matt and Colleen Swartz did not show up for the hearing.

Farmers' Cabinet evicted; $1.3 million in the hole

The Farmers´ Cabinet, at 1111-13 Walnut St.
The Farmers' Cabinet, at 1111-13 Walnut St. MICHAEL KLEIN /

One major chapter in the saga of The Farmers' Cabinet played out Tuesday afternoon in Municipal Court.

Good Fortunes LLC, which owns the space once occupied by the bar at 1111-13 Walnut St., won a default judgment of $1,334,572.72. Bar owners Matt and Colleen Swartz did not show up for the hearing.

Most landlord-tenant disputes are for a couple thousand dollars.

The Farmers' Cabinet's debt - including past and future rent and back utilities - was so great that the attorney for Good Fortunes initially had to cap her electronic filing at $999,999 because the system could not handle it. The additional amount was mentioned in court before Judge Joseph J. O'Neill.

O'Neill perused the paperwork and with a laugh asked attorney Lauren Zabel of Reed Smith: "I'd like an accounting to get to the 72 cents."

The next step would be attempting to collect on the judgment. At least Good Fortunes - whose main officer is restaurateur Michael Wei - now has the bar's liquor license and the restaurant space.

The Swartzes, from upstate Pennsylvania, have enjoyed a colorful four years on the local bar/restaurant scene.

In October 2010, they opened Fork & Barrel, a Euro beer bar in East Falls. In March 2011, they opened the Farmers' Cabinet.

In April 2011, they moved out of the Fork & Barrel in the middle of the night, calling it a "business decision to close since The Farmers’ Cabinet has so many of the same elements." They also closed Tap & Table, their bar in Emmaus.

On Sept. 28, 2012, the Swartzes opened The Butcher & Brewer at 216 S. 11th St. It closed 51 days later.

Around Christmas 2013, Farmers' Cabinet was raided by state police, and Matt Swartz was arrested. It was determined that someone had altered the liquor license's expiration date. Matt Swartz (booking photo is at right) pleaded guilty in Common Pleas Court to tampering with public records and operating an unlicensed bar; he was sentenced to a year's probation and fined $1,000.

Swartz's probation officer, meanwhile, was moonlighting for Swartz as a waitress. Court officials fired her.

Earlier this year Matt Swartz took over two bars - one at 38-40 S. 19th St. and the other at 20th and Arch Streets - earlier this year. But with a state police investigation under way at the 19th Street bar - Sutton's Parlor - the landlord changed the locks In June.


Post edited to correct the name of LLC

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Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

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