The former Cathedral Buffet is headed for sheriff’s auction.
A Summit County sheriff’s foreclosure sale is planned in June for the Cuyahoga Falls property after a broadcasting network that owns the site defaulted on a $3.6 million loan it received from a Ravenna company, according to court records.
The sale of the land at 2690 State Road — which was the site of the restaurant — is scheduled for June 7, according to the sheriff office’s website. The land is owned by Winston Broadcasting Network Inc.
Cathedral Buffet is adjacent to Ernest Angley Ministries and Grace Cathedral Inc. Televangelist Ernest Angley is pastor of Grace Cathedral and was president of Cathedral Buffet before it closed in April 2017.
The Rev. Rex Humbard opened the restaurant in August 1971 adjacent to the former Cathedral of Tomorrow. In 1994, Angley's ministry purchased it and rededicated it as Grace Cathedral.
The property has an appraised value of $4.3 million, according to the Summit County Fiscal Office.
Beck Energy Corp. in November 2017 filed a complaint in Summit County Common Pleas Court against Grace Cathedral Inc. and the church’s television station, Winston Broadcasting Network (WBN), claiming the church and the station “failed to make payments on the principal balance of a [$3.6 million] loan” that Beck made to WBN, the court document stated.
Beck sought a $3.6 million judgment against Grace Cathedral and WBN, and sought to foreclose on the property, sell the land and use the proceeds to repay the loan. In January 2018, a third defendant, Ronald C. Midcap, was added to the complaint. According to court documents, Midcap confirmed in a deposition that he is vice president of WBNX and a director of Grace Cathedral. WBNX was a local television station operated by WBN.
In November 2018, Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Joy Malek Oldfield ruled in favor of Beck and stated, “Foreclosure is the appropriate remedy.” In December, Judge Oldfield granted a $3.6 million judgment to Beck, ruled that it was entitled to foreclose on the WBN property at 2690 State Road and issued an order of sale. Beck will receive the proceeds from the property sale, according to Oldfield’s ruling.
A message left for Raymond Beck, president of Beck Energy, was not immediately returned. Winston Broadcasting Network’s office was closed when the Record-Courier contacted it Saturday evening.
Beck Energy lent $3.6 million at 8% interest to WBN in January 2013, according to the complaint. On Jan. 18, 2013, Edwina Brown, president of WBN, signed a promissory note to document the loan provided by Beck to WBN. On that same day, Angley signed a guaranty on behalf of Grace Cathedral, and Midcap also signed a guaranty, with both agreeing to pay back the loan “if WBN defaulted,” court records stated.
WBN used the loan from Beck to pay off its remaining balance with PNC Bank on Feb. 8, 2013, according to court records.
WBN granted a mortgage deed to Beck for WBN’s property, court records said. The mortgage was recorded with the Summit County Fiscal Office and, “is the first and best lien on the real property ...” according to court records.
WBN started interest-only payments to Beck on Feb. 7, 2013, according to court records. The original due date to fully pay off the loan was Feb. 7, 2016, but Beck “verbally granted” a one-year extension. As of September 2017, Winston Broadcasting had not repaid the $3.6 million and was in “default,” according to court records. Beck then filed its complaint in November 2017.
Cathedral Buffet closed its doors in April 2017 after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio ordered the restaurant to pay $388,000 in wages and damages to a group of congregation members, following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation. The investigation followed Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com reports on the allegations; the Labor Department said it found 239 buffet employees were owed $207,000 and filed suit in August 2015.
The lawsuit said Angley and Cathedral Buffet Inc. “improperly treated certain workers as ‘volunteers’ and paid them no wages.” The suit also said the weekly salaries paid to managers were too low to qualify for an exemption from the federal minimum wage requirements, and the restaurant improperly employed minors ages 14 to 16.
The amounts the restaurant owed employees ranged from under $100 to thousands of dollars, according to court documents.
Although the restaurant ended up winning the court case on an appeal in 2018, it never reopened.
The Beacon Journal/Ohio.com contributed to this report. Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.