The Vermont Supreme Court last week dismissed an appeal request in the eviction case against Backstage Pub, effectively ending the bar’s legal fight to stay in the Essex Junction Shopping Center.
The dismissal follows a trial judge’s possession order earlier this year in favor of the shopping plaza owners, who sought to evict the bar and its owner, Vincent Dober, Sr., over his failure to maintain adequate insurance coverage.
In their March 13 decision, Supreme Court justices explained Dober’s attorneys had failed to appeal a final judgement since the eviction case still has a pending hearing on whether the bar owes its landlords any damages.
Backstage could still file an appeal after this final hearing. However, it will likely have already been evicted by then: The pub now has two weeks from March 13, when the writ of execution became official, to vacate the premises, court records show. Otherwise, the landlords can forcibly remove the business from the building.
Renee Mobbs, the landlord’s attorney, said her clients had no comment on the case.
At trial in January, Dober’s attorney argued against the eviction, claiming it was not equitable punishment for the insurance lapses given his client had already put thousands of dollars into improving the building.
But a judge ruled in favor of the landlords, calling it a “relatively straightforward commercial eviction,” and issued a writ of execution giving them the right to evict Backstage. The same judge then denied Dober’s request to delay the eviction pending his appeal proceedings because she said he had slim chances of prevailing.
Still, Backstage remained hopeful until the end.
In an unsigned Facebook post late last month, the bar acknowledged its legal issues, which it called the “elephant in the room.”
But the bar repeatedly urged patrons to “relax” and challenged the veracity of a recent Reporter article that detailed Dober’s loss at trial. The post claimed the paper failed to report “the whole story” and said Dober had not lost to the landlords because the case was still in the appeal process (The Reporter’s story noted Dober’s attorney said he planned to discuss with his client an appeal to the state’s highest court).
“Backstage continues to remain open and run uninterrupted,” read the bar’s Feb. 28 post. “However, if forced to close unexpectedly, there will be notification to all my loyal customers and friends.”
As of last Friday morning, the bar had yet to update its Facebook page with any news of the pending eviction. Dober did not return multiple messages left at the bar last week.