ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Matt Shipp has been in the restaurant business in Orange Beach for more than a decade. He’s weathered storms and oil spills but now with coronavirus shutdown, his latest restaurant Fin and Fork is in danger of never opening again.
The chairs are up, the tables empty inside Fin and Fork, “we are financially stable with the exception of this last 25 days we’ve been shutdown now,” says owner and chef Matt Shipp.
He has furloughed a hundred employees with every intention of weathering this storm too and then he got a letter from a Selma law firm representing his landlord, Ken Wall, after missing April’s rent payment. “It’s frustrating, then Kenny Wall calls us out. I feel like he has become a predator landlord saying, ‘Hey, pay me now or we’re going to evict you.'”
Shipp says he has applied for the Paycheck Protection Program and has been approved. PPP is a federal program designed to help small businesses during the pandemic. He says he communicated all that to his landlord through text messages with a promise to make up the missed rent payment. “We’ve never been late or missed an obligation. We are responsible business owners. We have obligations that we pay and again, Kenny Wall to me is overstepping his boundary and he should be called out and ask why.”
We wanted an answer to that question too but so far have had no response from Ken Wall or his attorneys and neither has Shipp. “I’ve called Kenny Wall twice today. I’ve tried to communicate with him and no response. He won’t respond. I got letters from the attorney and had zero communication.”
Shipp has 10 days to respond. He says says if the legal action continues Fin and Fork will have to permanently close.