RICHMOND -- A popular Point Richmond restaurant says it is on the ropes after getting stiffed for its catering work at a Napa Valley music festival, but its loyal clientele hopes to help it bounce back with a "cash mob" Friday night.
Supporters of the Up & Under Pub and Grill have organized an event to help the owners stay in business after losing about $185,000 in unpaid fees after catering the BottleRock Napa Valley music festival.
"I feel awkward even getting this help," said Nathan Trivers, who co-owns the Rugby-themed pub with his wife, Nikki Villa. "But I'm thankful ... I have 33 employees, and I have to make payroll."
Supporters in the tight-knit historic community have rallied behind their favorite watering hole. A Facebook page has been created to advertise a "cash mob" starting at 7 p.m. Friday.
"That means that we'll be mobbing them with lots of people, and if everyone buys a beer, the volume will add up," wrote the page's author, Michaela Graham. "The more people are coming, the better. It's taking business to a higher level, by creating a bigger volume of purchases for that day."
The Up & Under Pub opened in January 2010, and the owners restored a long-dilapidated historic building to house their unique restaurant vision. Many Point Richmond residents credit the Up & Under Pub for helping drive a surge of economic energy in the historic district, which is brimming with arts and fine cuisine.
But the good times ground to a halt in May. Villa and Trivers scored a lucrative contract to cater Napa's BottleRock festival, which drew tens of thousands and a slew of big-name music acts, including Jane's Addiction and Primus.
From April 28 to May 13, Trivers said, he and his staff were on site catering for stars and hundreds of crew members, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The head counts were wrong and the mismanagement became apparent, Trivers said. In the confusion, he wound up with about 30 percent of the total costs in hand and an unpaid bill of about $185,000 when the event ended.
"The day we were leaving the gig, the (promoters') accountant was trying to look busy, saying they didn't have the money quite yet," Trivers said. "As the days passed by, everybody was harder to get hold of."
It's been widely reported that organizers of Napa's BottleRock festival, Gabe Meyers and Bob Vogt, ran into financial difficulties and were unable to pay anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million in debts to stage technicians, caterers and others. The Up & Under Pub is one of those left with an IOU.
"It's like starting from the beginning all over again," Trivers said. "I have to take out loans and ask for advances just to keep our doors open."
BottleRock organizers and restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn, whose catering company managed food and beverage service, have pointed fingers at each other.
Calls to Vogt and Pawlcyn were not returned Wednesday.
If the social media buzz is any indication, the Up & Under will be standing room only Friday night. The pub's Facebook page, with 1,122 "likes," is replete with well wishes and promises to open purses and wallets wide on Friday night. Even former Jane's Addiction rocker Dave Navarro took to Twitter to express his support.
"What happened in Napa affected a tight, close-knit community here," said Bobbie Scott-Hlebek, a Point Richmond resident. "The Up & Under is a local staple that helps at the local school and does so much for us, so we'll support them Friday night and have a blast doing it."
What: Cash mob, a party to raise funds to save the Up & Under Pub and Grill
When: Starts 7 p.m. Friday
Where: 2 West Richmond Ave., Richmond, in the historic Point Richmond district
Why: The Up & Under Pub and Grill's owners are out more than $185,000 and struggling to stay open after not receiving payment for catering services at the BottleRock Napa Valley music festival in May.