Stuart restaurant in old Ashley gang target closes after owner can’t make the rentSeptember 17th, 2009 by TCPalm.com
By Jim Turner
STUART — Longtime downtown restaurant The Ashley has closed and new locks were being put in place Wednesday at the historic location that was once a bank robbed by the Ashley Gang.
Tara Carlen, an owner of the restaurant, said that after being unable to negotiate for more affordable rent, she is now looking rebuild in a new, less expensive location in Stuart by December.
“Nothing is stamped and sealed at this point, but you can say we’re hoping to open at a new location,” said Carlen.
The last day for the Ashley was Sunday.
Boyd Bradfield of Southcoast Inc., which has managed the property at the corner of Southwest St. Lucie Avenue and Southwest Osceola Street for 23 years, said the owners were late on their rent and he hoped to have a new tenant running a restaurant before the season begins.
“We’ll get it cleaned up and price it back on the market,” Bradfield said. “That’s always been a good spot.”
Signs near the doors Wednesday morning advertised for a Thursday night “Rockin ‘N’ Rolling Party” and for weekend concerts by new classic rock band Up Dawg.
Menus still showcase the $10 eggs benedict at brunch, $8.25 grilled turkey and swiss sandwiches for lunch and dinner entrees featuring grilled filet mignon for $26.95 and pan-seared Atlantic salmon for $22.95.
But inside the 4,050-square-foot restaurant that included a bar and stage, booths have been removed, a few beer and liquor bottles stand on the bar and interior decor has massed into disorganized piles.
Stuart Mayor Mary Hutchinson, who had owned an art gallery downtown, hopes the high-profile location near the city’s Riverwalk doesn’t remain vacant for long.
“That corner has been an established restaurant and mainstay for many years,” Hutchinson said. “Whoever comes to the downtown, that’s one of the first places you see.”
Long a restaurant, the Ashley in a previous life housed a bank that was robbed in 1915 and again in 1924 by the infamous Ashley Gang.
Carlen, who had been a manager at the restaurant for two years, rescued the Ashley after it closed in 2006 and was running it with her sister Trista Carlen.
In 2008, Timothy J. Fritschle, the prior owner, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 10 years’ probation for first-degree tax fraud. He was also ordered to pay back more than $211,000 in restitution to compensate for the restaurant sales taxes he failed to remit or file tax returns from May 2003 to August 2006, according to court records.