Dishing up a mix of spicy chicken and attractive waitresses in a trendy setting, Toledo's two Jed's Barbeque & Brew restaurants have attracted a loyal following heavy on young males.
But in recent months, the sports bars and the 33-year-old entrepreneur behind them have attracted unwanted attention from creditors and police.
Kenneth Pompora, owner of Jed's South, on Reynolds Road, and Jed's North, Alexis Road, didn't return calls yesterday. His lawyer, Jack Brady, was unavailable.
But in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Toledo this month, Sysco Corp., a restaurant supplier in Houston, accuses the establishments of racking up more than $315,000 in unpaid grocery bills and of bouncing checks.
Mr. Pompora also is embroiled in a battle with Brooks Contracting Inc., Perrysburg, which is seeking to foreclose on his lease-hold interest in the Reynolds Road restaurant after he allegedly failed to pay $40,000 he owes for construction of a smoking room and rest room renovations there in 2003.
In a reply to the suit, filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, Mr. Pompora accused the firm of poor workmanship and failing to finish the $160,000 job.
The restaurateur faces a felony count in connection with an incident in Springfield Town-
ship April 20. A county sheriff's deputy stopped Mr. Pompora on Garden Road shortly after midnight after the deputy noticed that the 2003 Hummer H2 Mr. Pompora was driving was missing a front license plate. A check determined that he was driving on a suspended license, the deputy reported.
After ordering him out of the vehicle, the deputy said he noticed a semiautomatic pistol concealed in Mr. Pompora's right waistband. He had initially denied having a gun.
Mr. Pompora lacked a permit to carry the weapon, which was loaded, police said. The restaurateur explained that he was getting ready to make a "money run" for his restaurant, but had no deposit with him, according to the report.
He was charged with a felony count of carrying a concealed weapon. He has pleaded not guilty, and an Oct. 19 trial date has been set.
Mr. Pompora has told people that he had the weapon because of threats against him, said Bruce Sorg, an assistant county prosecutor who is overseeing the case.
Prosecutors have filed court papers to seek forfeiture of the Hummer, which is registered to Jed's. The law allows for the seizure of vehicles used in the commission of a felony. If Mr. Pompora is convicted, prosecutors will decide whether to proceed with the seizure, said Jeff Johnston, an assistant county prosecutor.
Mr. Pompora was a leader of the successful drive to modify Toledo's restaurant smoking ban.
His restaurants are usually packed on weekends. In recent months, he has talked about franchising the chain. The Toledo restaurants are not linked to a Jed's in Bowling Green, which is operated by a former business partner of Mr. Pompora.
Mr. Pompora hasn't yet replied to the Sysco suit, which was filed Aug. 12. Sysco said the restaurateur reneged on a deal reached last November to pay $475,000 in overdue charges.
He paid a portion of the debt, but between November and July 27 wrote five checks that were returned because accounts contained insufficient funds to cover them, Sysco alleges.
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