Popular Kettering bar closing; owners cite ‘greed’

The owners of a popular Kettering bar cite “greed” as the reason they will close their bar that dates back to 1964 in its current location.

Jack and Betty Wilderman announced the January 20, 2018 closure of The Phone Booth Lounge, 1554 E. Stroop Road, on Facebook Saturday

They say negotiations with property owners Agust and Lou Ella "Susie" Thorbjornsson have failed.

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Reached by phone Monday, Mrs. Thorbjornsson said the Wildermans offered to pay $278,000 for the building and land, far less than the amount she believes they agreed upon.

The contract the Wildermans signed nearly 5 years ago specifies that the property and building would be purchased for $620,000, she says. She disputes the Wildermans assertion that the sale was optional.

"They notified us the first time in August and they gave us two choices, neither of which we wanted: take what (they) were offering or they would move," Thorbjornsson said. "I just feel they have not followed the contract to the letter. Maybe I am being a little picky, but a contract is a contract." 

The club has darts and pool tables and features live music Friday and Saturday nights.

Messages were left on Facebook and on Jack Wilderman’s cell phone seeking comment.

The Facebook post from the Wildermans reads:

******* IMPORTANT NOTICE********

As of February 1st it has been 5 years since Betty and I bought the business, The Phone Booth Lounge. When we bought the business, we did so with a 5 year lease with the option to buy the property upon completion of the Lease. We are saddened to report that negotiations with the owners of the property have fallen apart. They are asking 250% more than the appraised value of the property. To meet these demands would be a financial disaster for Betty and me. We are announcing today that the Phone Booth Lounge will close on January 20th, 2018. Betty and I are searching for a new venue to continue the name and second home to so many The Phone Booth Lounge. We have come so far in 5 years, we hate to end it at this location, but greed has over shadowed the success of what Betty and I have built. We have so many people to thank for this success. But just keep in mind, we will prevail and be better than ever. We will post any updates as they arise. 

Thank you for your support 

Jack and Betty

The tenative value of the land and building is listed as $243,690 on the Montgomery County Auditors website.

The Phone Booth Lounge was founded in 1964 and had multiple owners before the Thorbjornssons purchased it in 1985.

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They operated it for 27 years before turning the business over to the Wildermans.

“We really enjoyed the people and we enjoyed making sure everyone was taken care of and had a good time,” Mrs. Thorbjornsson said.

She did not immediately know what will happen to the space if the Wildermans leave.

“I think once you enter into a contract you should honor that contract,” Thorbjornsson said.

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