RANCHO MIRAGE - Hopes were high for the restaurant Bing Crosby's when it's doors opened nearly six years ago in Rancho Mirage. But, a county tax-collector notice of seizure posted on the restaurant's door shows that Bing's hasn't been paying the bills.
The restaurants last day of operation was Saturday June 12, according to former employees.
According to the Riverside County tax collector's office, the restaurant has failed to pay more than $95,000 in taxes between 2007 and June 9, 2010.
Management plans on reopening in October, according to employees. But those same employees have already filed for unemployment.
The U-Haul truck was parked in the back parking lot, where former employees filled it up with what was left of Bing Crosby's.
"I loved my job here," said Chris Kelin, recently unemployed. "It was great."
Richard Atkins, a former Bing Crosby's bartender, said he is "sad. I really liked the place."
Residents were shocked when they pulled up to the parking lot and heard the restaurant was no longer open.
"I don't know what to say," said Steve Bethke, who is sad to see the restaurant close. "I'm just flabbergasted."
"I guess it's a sign of the times," said Mark Bengtson, who visited Bing Crosby's frequently.
Dated June 9, 2010, the notice of seizure posted on the door said Bing Crosby's Restaurant has been seized for the purpose of enforcing the collection of unpaid taxes.
The amount due at the end of the seizure was $95,613.34.
"We put up with a lot of stuff," said Klein, who worked for the restaurant for nearly four years.
"I've never had a paycheck that went through the very first time I went to cash it," said Atkins.
"Go ask Bank of America, 'what do you know about Bing Crosby's checks?' Ask them right over here," said Klein. "They'll tell you that the funds are not available."
Klein said he loved his job and his co-workers. But, the constant hassle of cashing company checks was a hint that the restaurant was struggling financially, he said.
"They always came through for us. At one point or another, we got our money," he said. "But, you know, they left us two weeks notice to clear out, [and told] us they were going to re-open October 1. [But] we all know that's not happening."
Mark Bengston said he had no idea that his last dinner at Bing Crosby's a few weeks ago could be his last meal there ever.
"I always thought it was crowded, and every time we've ever been, it's been packed," he said. "The food is excellent. It's just too bad."
When asked if the closure made the nationwide recession hit home, Lloyd Johnson replied "you bet. Does it ever."
Dudum Sports and Entertainment owns the restaurant, but they were unavailable for comment.
The Bing Crosby's in Walnut Creek up in Northern California said that they have no plans to close.
But the San Diego location wouldn't comment on whether or not it was going out of business.