• Sirloin Saloon falls victim to hard times
    By Bruce Edwards
    STAFF WRITER | April 04,2012
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    Albert J. Marro / Staff file photo

    The Sirloin Saloon in Rutland is shown here in this file photo.
    Two names come to mind when the conversation turns to local steakhouses – Sawdi’s and the Sirloin Saloon.

    Sawdi’s on Route 7 closed several years ago and attempts to revive the restaurant have failed.

    Now, the Sirloin Saloon has met the same fate. The once popular steakhouse on South Main Street has closed after more than 40 years in business.

    The printed sign on the front door Tuesday afternoon had a finality about it: “Sorry we are closed indefinitely. Thank you so much for your patronage.”

    In an email statement announcing the closing, owner Susan Schulze-Claasen said: “Economic pressures from the extended recession and increasing costs have made continued operations unsustainable.”

    The Rutland Sirloin Saloon employed 30 people.

    Four years ago, Schulze-Claasen’s San Diego company leased the Rutland and Manchester Sirloin Saloons and the Dakota Steakhouse in Latham, N.Y., from Amresco Commercial Finance of Boise, Idaho.

    The closing follows several changes in ownership, each one encountering financial troubles.

    Schulze-Claasen’s company, DWH I, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. On Tuesday, DWH I and its related corporate entities, filed a motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Idaho to convert its bankruptcy to Chapter 7.

    Amresco, a creditor and owner of the Rutland and Manchester properties, had already put both properties up for sale.

    Tony Blake of V/T Commercial Real Estate Brokerage in Burlington, said Tuesday that within the last couple of months the Manchester property was sold to a real estate developer.

    The Manchester Sirloin Saloon closed in December.

    Blake said the Rutland property remains on the market.

    In November, it was listed at $875,000. But V/T Commercial is now advertising the 9,450-square-foot restaurant on 4.5 acres at a reduced price.

    Rutland native Thomas Donahue was a frequent visitor to the Sirloin Saloon.

    “It was a true steakhouse and had a sensational salad bar,” said Donahue, executive vice president of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce.

    The Sirloin Saloons were also known for their native American motif.

    Although he’ll miss it, Donahue said there are other restaurants that have come along to fill the void including Lagasse’s, Table 24, Sabby’s, Little Harry’s and Roots the Restaurant, to name but a few.

    The Sirloin Saloons trace their roots to the early 1960s.

    Tony Perry, who grew up in Manchester, started a nightclub called the Five Flys in 1963. Perry got out of the nightclub business six years later and renamed his business the Sirloin Saloon.

    After Perry sold the chain in 1999 to several management employees, the restaurants began a downhill slide. The employees borrowed $17.5 million from Amresco to buy the business from Perry. They later sued the Idaho company for alleged breach of contract. The lawsuit was resolved in 2006 much in Amresco’s favor with the company winding up with the Sirloin Saloons in Rutland, Manchester and Shelburne (since closed) and three of the four Dakota Steakhouses.

    In the statement announcing the closing, Rutland general manager Chriss Parker said the restaurant created memories for many patrons over the years.

    “Our guests have been wonderful and our employee teams inspiring,” Parker said. “On the other hand, we are immensely grateful to the community for allowing us to partner in so many celebration and dining experiences.”

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