Main Street Grill building in Crestline to be auctioned

CRESTLINE – At the end of August last year, there was no indication Main Street Grill was about to close.

“They came on a Friday, cooked dinner for everyone,” auctioneer John Froehlich said. “He said to clean up and get ready for tomorrow, clean everything out the back, put everything away – and decided not to come back. Boom. Like a switch. There’s food in the freezer, the food in the cold room. There’s dry goods all over the shelves – they’ll give it away and we’ll be good to go. But we sell everything down to the bare walls.

The restaurant at 819 E. Main St. was formerly known as Hunger Paynes Restaurant. It was purchased by Jole Ronk, owner of Ronk’s Towing, and his son Joey in December 2019, Froelich said.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The restaurant closed so suddenly that Froehlich found a stack of cash still in the till on Thursday.

Now the company will be sold in a pair of auctions in early April.

The building and the 0.4 acre parcel will be sold at a live auction on April 5. Then on April 6, there will be an online-only auction of the building’s contents via the Froehlich website,

Selling the building first gives its buyer the chance to buy some of the equipment inside, the Westlake-based auctioneer explained.

“But if you sell the content first, nobody knows who will own the building – so why should I buy stuff if I don’t know if I’m going to own the building?” said Froehling. “So we sell the building first.”

Potential buyers can take a look at the open house

People who want a better view of what’s for sale can attend an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 31.

“The whole building will be open; people can come in, they can look around and watch,” Froehlich said. “On April 5, when we have the live auction for the restaurant building itself, it will be here in the building. We will do it inside, rain or shine, and it will start at 1 p.m. Doors will open at noon.”

Memorabilia hanging on the walls of the former Main Street Grill will be sold in an online auction next month.

Persons interested in bidding in the Real Estate Auction should register in advance on the site.

“If a realtor wants to bring in a bidder and collect their commission, they must pre-register on the website 48 hours before the auction – no exceptions,” Froehlich said. “So if a realtor shows up with a bidder on auction day, they don’t get commission. I’ll take their bidder’s money, but they won’t get commission.”

How can people bid on items online?

Persons wishing to bid in the online auction must register on the site, too. Once registered, users will be able to view photos and descriptions of all items and place their bids. Auctions on items will begin to end at 6 p.m. on April 6.

“As long as no one is bidding on things, they will close,” Froehlich said. “If someone bids, they can bid until the last minute – but if they bid in the last three minutes, that item only lasts an extra three minutes. So you never have to worry about someone snipes the bid… at the very last second, preventing someone else from bidding.

“It’s no different than a live auction. We leave the item open for auction until no one bids within a particular time frame, which is three minutes. No one bids in three minutes, boom, it’s over and so we could end the whole auction, except for two or three items, could still be bid on, and it could last until midnight , as long as people keep bidding higher and higher each time.

The former home of Hunger Paynes and the Main Street Grille will be auctioned on April 5.  Its contents will be auctioned online the following day.

“But it’s fair for the bidders, and it also maximizes the seller’s revenue. That’s my job: to get as much money as possible.”

Froehlich predicted that the restaurant’s equipment will generate a lot of interest.

“Even though there’s a ton of it, there’s always a demand,” he said. “And there are guys who buy it, clean it, resell it. These guys buy a ton of stuff. There really aren’t a lot of memorabilia if you will in the building, but there are unique and different things.”

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Jennifer C. Burleigh