Posto 9, an upscale Brazilian gastropub that opened to great fanfare in December 2016 after its owners spent several million dollars to renovate and outfit a historic downtown building, has closed, the owners announced on Facebook this morning. 

The restaurant was ordered closed immediately this morning by a federal bankruptcy judge, co-owner Marco Franca told The Ledger, adding that left him scrambling to inform employees.

“It (the restaurant) is now in the hands of the creditors and the government,” Franca said. “During these past six months we’ve been negotiating with banks and creditors; we were trying to make ends meet, but the judge said, ‘No, enough is enough.’”

On Facebook, Marco and Grace Franca wrote: “With much regret, Posto 9 Gastropub has closed. To our many regular customers, we are very grateful for the support you gave us in our desire to open a warm, neighborhood restaurant for the residents of Lakeland. We just wish there had been more of you. But we will always remember your kindness.”

About an hour after the message was posted,  the restaurant Facebook page went offline.

Listings on both Facebook and Google show the restaurant at 215 E. Main Street as “permanently closed.”

The restaurant generated glowing reviews, including this one from The Ledger’s Eric Pera, but Posto 9 Lakeland LLC and Posto 9 Properties LLC filed for bankruptcy in September in order to reorganize debt.

In its filing, the restaurant listed assets of $1.21 million and debts of $4.85 million.

“We had some unfortunate disputes with some creditors,” Marco Franca told The Ledger at the time. “There had to be a way to reorganize our debt, and this is the path we have chosen to take. This is just a financial reorganization, nothing more.”

The restaurant, which included a casual rooftop lounge and a more formal bar attached to the first-floor restaurant, touted a no-tipping policy when it opened. That policy was abandoned four months later. Marco Franca explained he was losing bartenders who said they could earn more at a tipping establishment.

Today’s Facebook post ended: “Life goes on, and we wish all of you our very best wishes.”

It appears the Posto 9 Facebook page went offline around 1 p.m. Earlier the post had attracted some comments from employees who said they were surprised to learn on Facebook they would not be reporting to work tonight, as scheduled.

The restaurant’s website and Instagram page also went offline.

Last week, Marco Franca noted on Facebook: “Lakeland is (rated by at 188 and Winter Haven at 300 as Best & Worst Small Cities to Start a Business. There is a lot of ground for improvement, beginning with the barrier that ‘change is not welcome’.”

Today he told The Ledger: “We lost everything. We’re going into (personal) bankruptcy, too. All I can say is, we’re moving forward. When you’re an entrepreneur you win some and you lose some. I feel sorry for all of our employees, but this came as a total surprise.”

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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