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September 5, 2008 at 2:36 PM

Asteroid crash averted — for now

Remember when I told you last week about the Asteroid closing? It did. And tonight the Italian restaurant is open again — for the time being. It wasn’t exactly a crash landing for Fremont’s Asteroid, said owner Marlin Hathaway, though last Sunday night nearly 200 of his friends, former staff and supporters showed up to eat, drink and wish him well before he closed the place.

Today he called to say the potential buyer he’d hope would get him out of hock — a guy named Jugder Temuujin — did indeed get bank financing, two days after I wrote about their “signed deal” and the restaurant’s pending closure. Now Temuujin’s waiting for S.B.A.-approval and an OK from the state Liquor Control Board before he can take over the place, effectively bailing Marlin out of debt and allowing him to get on with his life. Which, as anyone who knows Marlin will tell you, has been an interesting one. Then there’s the mess with his restaurant’s landlord.

Yesterday, Marlin “cleaned up” and headed downtown to file for personal bankruptcy, then he showed up for an unlawful-detainer hearing — in response to his landlord’s attempt to evict him for being behind on his restaurant’s lease payments. The landlord’s attorneys didn’t show, and the judge dismissed the unlawful detainer — for now. Because he still holds the lease on the restaurant, Marlin said, and because he’s filed Chapter 13, it’s in his best interest, legally and financially, to keep the place open so his buyer can actually have something to buy. It all sounds very complicated. And nothing’s a done deal. But what it boils down to is this:

Asteroid is back in business, serving dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays though Sundays starting tonight. “One of best things about last week, is that after word got out that we were closing we got busy!” With receipts from Friday and Saturday nights, “I was able to pay off my small vendors,” Marlin said. In the near future, he plans to be working at Asteroid with his sous-chef and a handful of employees, and if life works in his favor, Jugder Temuujin will take over the lease in October. At which point Marlin will pay his landlord what he owes him (as of today, in excess of $20,000), help Temuujin (who has both cookery and restaurant-management experience) with the transition, say “Ciao!” — again — and that will be that. Or not.

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