Attractions declare bankruptcy

Published 12:05 am Thursday, December 8, 2011

Natchez — Two of Natchez’s most well-known tourist attractions have filed bankruptcy in recent months to avoid foreclosures on their historic properties.

But both Monmouth Plantation and King’s Tavern remain open to locals and tourists and say they intend to keep it that way.

Monmouth co-owner Ron Riches said the business filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday to avoid the foreclosure of Monmouth that was scheduled for Wednesday.

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Riches said the downturn of the economy hit Monmouth hard, just as it has businesses across the country.

“We got caught up in the same crisis everyone else has during the recession,” Riches said. “We probably borrowed too much money, but the FDIC really clamped down on the banks.”

Riches said he thinks the recession has hit local businesses and banks the hardest.

“It’s the little people who are suffering,” he said.

Monmouth remains open for guests and events.

“We’re operating it just the way it always has been,” Riches said. “We’re still going to be open.”

Shawyn Mars, who co-owns King’s Tavern with Thom Miller, said the tavern filed for bankruptcy in September at the advice of their attorney so they could keep their doors open.

“Natchez is a seasonal town,” he said. “Business goes from very, very good during Spring Pilgrimage and Fall Pilgrimage to almost nothing. You have some months in between that are pretty bad.”

Mars said the flood last spring also hurt business a great deal.

“You had the TV stations saying that Natchez was flooding, and the tourists just stopped coming,” he said. “I really think people went elsewhere because of that.”

Mars said business at the tavern has been good the past couple of months. He said it is unfortunate bankruptcy had to be filed, but he and Miller will do whatever it takes to keep King’s Tavern open.

“This restaurant has been here for 40 years, and we’ll do whatever we can to keep it open,” Mars said.