(EDITOR’S NOTE: Stacey Page contributed to this article.)
UPDATE: Word today from Cerulean that 1000 Park Baking Co. will be transitioning to new management. The management of Cerulean, in the Village at Winona Lake, will be taking over operations, and the bakery’s name will be changed to Light Rail Cafe and Roasters.)
“We were approached by Aaron, and we have been looking for a location to expand our coffee roasting,” says Caleb France of Cerulean. “So we decided to take over the bakery and hope for a great transition with the current staff and for the community. We are so excited to expand the breakfast menu and continue to have such an asset in our village.”
Wilcoxson’s exemplary customer service is sure to be missed, but, considering the trying economic times, his staff is fortunate not be forced into unemployment. France says he doesn’t expect any interruption in business as Wilcoxson exits at the end of September, and the restaurant should remain open.
Saturday, Sept. 21, was a bittersweet occasion for the crew at 1000 Park Baking Co. Owner Aaron Wilcoxson hosted a party at the quaint café to celebrate six and a half years of serving food and drink.
During the festivities, though, Wilcoxson announced that at the end of the month, 1000 Park Baking Co. would no longer be in business and said he is “no longer welcome in the Village after this month … basically, I have the wrong last name.”
Rumors had circulated that the business might be closing. Wilcoxson confirmed them on Saturday night with a speech in the midst of the festivities calling the business “collatoral damage” in what he claimed was “baseless … squabbling between two people.”
The building where the café is currently located is not one of those in the center of a lawsuit between Wilcoxson’s father, Brent Wilcoxson, and Dr. Dane Miller. Dr. Miller is suing Wilcoxson, his former partner in Winona Restoration Partners LLC, accusing him of wrongfully obtaining real estate and mishandling financial information and documents.
Claims filed over a year ago in Kosciusko Superior Court 1 allege that Wilcoxson wrongfully transferred 13 parcels of real estate from Winona Restoration Partners LLC, which Dr. Miller and Wilcoxson formed in 1996, to Wilcoxson’s own company, Winona Arts, Restoration & Preservation Inc., which he founded in 2006.
According to information from the National Center for Charitable Statistics, W.A.R.P. had total assets of over $4.5 million when the lawsuit was filed. Internal Revenue Service Form 990, filed by Brent Wilcoxson in 2006, shows he founded the nonprofit with just over $4 million in assets. The value of the properties at the center of the lawsuit total more than $4 million.
While the news that the café is closing was disappointing for those in attendance, Aaron Wilcoxson encouraged everyone to celebrate the friendships and sense of community created during the six and a half year run of 1000 Park Baking Co.
The lawsuit is ongoing, but both sides requested that all proceedings be closed.