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Souvenirs closes doors amid fiscal problems


Souvenirs, the trendy Bel Air restaurant struggling to stay open in the face of mounting financial problems, was closed Jan. 22 by its owners.

How long the Main Street eatery will remain closed is in the hands of the mortgage holder, Key Federal Savings Bank of Baltimore County.

On Jan. 15, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge E. Stephen Derby signed an order for default when Paul V. Thompson, who owns the restaurant with his former wife, Holly Thompson, failed to respond to Key Federal's claim before the court that the bankruptcy filing be denied.

Daniel W. Hume, a Key Federal vice president, referred calls concerning the restaurant's status to the bank's attorney, Gordon Heyman of the Baltimore law firm Dackman and Heyman.

According to Mr. Heyman, Key Federal may now foreclose on the Thompsons' personal property, which was used as collateral when the mortgage was secured, as well as the restaurant's property.

Judge Derby has scheduled a hearing 4:30 p.m. Feb. 22 on a motion by Key Federal to appoint a trustee who may oversee the liquidation of the properties.

In an attempt to block the sale of the building and fixtures last November, Mr. Thompson filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which allows a business to reorganize without the threat of creditors' lawsuits until it can develop a plan to put its finances in order.

The petition was filed Nov. 11 -- the day before a scheduled public auction. Because the auctioneer had no confirmation of the filing, the auction took place.

Key Federal was the sole bidder for the property, offering $200,000 for the building and $25,000 for fixtures and equipment.

Key Federal said in court papers that as of last Sept. 29, the Thompsons owed $415,824, including $42,918 in interest and $3,920 in late fees.

With just hours remaining in Comcast's amnesty program -- during which the company will not seek prosecution of people who have been pirating cable programs -- an official of the county's largest provider of cable television has called it an overwhelming success.

"The response was much greater than we had anticipated," said Brian Lynch, general manager for Comcast, which services 39,732 customers in Harford County. "More than 2,000 families called to inform us they had not been paying for our service. . . . We estimate that approximately 75 percent asked to be enrolled customers."

Over the past two weeks of the program, the company was receiving more than 100 calls a day from people taking advantage of the opportunity to avoid possible prosecution.

Beginning tomorrow, anyone caught pirating cable services will be turned over to the Harford County State's Attorney's office.

Boyle Buick of Abingdon has joined an elite group after earning the Buick Motor Division's "Best In Class" award for the fifth year.

Of the 3,000 Buick dealerships nationwide, only 60 have earned the award five times.

The "Best In Class" award is Buick Motor Division's top honor for customer satisfaction and overall operating professionalism. To achieve the award, the staff of a Buick dealership must meet or exceed 224 specific performance criteria relating to customer satisfaction and operating effectiveness.

Many of these criteria are measured by customer surveys conducted by Buick and General Motors Corp. Boyle Buick reached those standards in new car sales, used car sales, service, body shop, administrative, finance and insurance.

Boyle Buick is on Emmorton Road. It was founded in Perryman as Lee Buick in 1915.

Clarence Boyle, president of the dealership, went to work for the dealership as a salesman in 1952. In 1968, he bought the dealership and changed the name to Boyle Buick.

The Bear-ly Used Consignment Shop is moving to 50 N. Main St. in Bel Air and has scheduled a grand opening for 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Owner Joanne McCord said the move was made "because we had an opportunity to nearly double the size of the store."

The shop, which has operated at 115 S. Main Street since it opened last July, will have about 1,500-square-feet at its new location.

The Route 40 Business Association will hold it first business card exchange Feb. 11 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Richlin Ballroom near Md. Route 24 and Interstate 95 in Edgewood.

Business people throughout Harford County and the surrounding region are invited to this free gathering.

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