Former NBA Star Chris Webber Sued by Landlord for Unpaid Rent on Sacramento Restaurant

Former five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber, who played for the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, has become the latest victim of the economic downturn with the closing of his Sacramento-area restaurant.

Webber was sued Feb. 23 by his former landlord, the Promenade at Sacramento Gateway Shopping Center, for $1.8 million under the terms of the 20-year lease signed by Webber and his business partners.

Webber launched his restaurant Center Court with C-Webb, a sports-themed restaurant, three years ago in a suburban Sacramento location not far from the Arco Arena, where the Sacramento Kings play.

Webber teamed with Dudum Sports and Entertainment of Walnut Creek for the restaurant. Dudum specializes in celebrity-themed restaurants and has collaborated with stars such as former San Francisco Giant Willie McCovey and musician Carlos Santana (including on Maria Maria in Mill Valley, California).

According to the lease, Webber and his partner began paying $25,600 per month three years ago, which amount was scheduled to increase to $34,200 by the end of the 20-year lease.  That amount of rent is difficult to sustain even in the best of economies for restaurants. Unfortunately, Webber’s restaurant opened right as the restaurant business was entering a significant downturn.

Center Court wasn’t a cheap restaurant. The restaurant sold what was billed as Sacramento’s biggest burger, a 44-ounce offering called the “Fab Five” which cost $29.50.

(You can check out a video of Chris Webber showing off that behemoth here.)

Webber’s problems won’t be solved easily. It has been reported that one of his partners in the restaurant, Opus West Corp., has since filed for bankruptcy protection. Often when one debtor files for bankruptcy, it leads to a “domino effect” whereby all the remaining debtors are forced to file for bankruptcy protection or else they have to shoulder 100% of the debt.

However, Webber may have too many assets to even qualify for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. Under Chapter 7, Webber’s debts and lack of income must be so severe that there is no way he can pay off his debts.  All of the debtor’s remaining assets are liquidated, aside from a certain amount of personal or household assets which may be excluded.  Debtors who qualify for Chapter 13 generally are making too much money to qualify for Chapter 7. Under Chapter 13, the debtor must make payments to the Chapter 13 trustee over a period of years to pay off their creditors.  Most of the creditors are forced to accept far less than what they are owed, but the debtor still has to pay far more than they would if they qualified for a Chapter 7 filing.

Given the fact that Webber has a new job as Studio analyst on NBA TV, it looks unlikely he would qualify for a bankruptcy filing.  His legal team is likely to put together a settlement strategy focused on some kind of reduced payment up front, or with regular payments over time. If Webber is lucky, the Promenade has either already rented out the old restaurant space or will rent it soon, thereby reducing the damages Webber is liable to pay.

John Corcoran is an Associate with Plastiras & Terrizzi and serves as counsel to related company Parkway Properties, a real estate brokerage and real estate investment corporation serving the San Francisco Bay Area.


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