Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Happy Badger gears up for farewell at month's end

Barring a miracle, a party at The Happy Badger at the end of the month will serve as the closing ceremony for the embattled South Toledo clothing store, cafe, and youth concert venue.

The Happy Badger's owners, Donna and Alan Cohen, have not given up on the idea of finding a business partnership or another source of funds that will allow them to stay open past the end of the month.

But the couple held their last concert last weekend and have stopped ordering food for the cafe.

"We've pretty much made the decision to end it," Mrs. Cohen said. "The party [on Aug. 20] will be a wonderful, bittersweet event."

The Cohens filed for bankruptcy on June 13 after just a year and a half in the 12,000-square-foot venue on Reynolds Road near the Southwyck Shopping Center. What began as a space for young people to spend time in a drug and alcohol-free space lost money from the time it opened its doors, according to the Cohens' landlord, Paul Stark.

Mr. Stark said the Cohens owe him $83,000 in back rent, none of which he will be able to collect because the bankruptcy proceedings will eliminate all past debts. Still, the couple would need to pay $16,000 to cover rent for July and August, he said.

"They haven't given me one penny," Mr. Stark said. "I would love to get them out as soon as possible since I could certainly use the money. Those people took advantage of me."

The Happy Badger opened in December, 2000, at the Cricket West shopping center in West Toledo as a place for local artists to sell jewelry and paintings, a cafe that sells fair-trade coffee and "creative" sandwiches, and a concert venue that puts the spotlight on local teenage bands.

In January, 2004, the Cohens moved to their current location even though they knew at the time they didn't have the money to pay for it.

"All along we've been waiting for someone to want to keep us open and step up," Mrs. Cohen said. "It's too piecemeal, too nerve-wracking, to live like this."

The couple has received several donations over the last few months, but none large enough to keep The Happy Badger afloat. They have met with several business owners - as well as a Toledo mayoral candidate they refused to name - in an attempt to secure a source of funds.

The Cohens' bankruptcy attorney, Gordon Barry, estimated The Happy Badger would remain in place for another four to five weeks.

"The Cohens are still hoping they can enter into some new lease, but they haven't done anything about that," Mr. Barry said.

Contact Megan Greenwell at:

or 419-724-6050.

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