DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER) - Albert and Betty Ehrman breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday afternoon after learning The Farm banquet and event center would remain open, even though it's being put up for auction by the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS seized the property at 239 Anderson Ferry Road to sell at auction to recover more than $126,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, according to our media partners at The Enquirer.
Owner Daniel Elsaesser assured the couple and a steady stream of patrons lining up behind them in the parking lot that it would be business as usual at The Farm – at least until a sale is concluded.
"Good,'' Betty replied, as she sat in her car outside the main entrance to the iconic party hall on Cincinnati's West Side. "We're planning to bring one of our grandchildren here tomorrow, and one on Thursday.''
The Ehrmans, who live about a block away, said they've been bringing friends and family to The Farm for more than 25 years, and they're not ready to see their family tradition come to an end.
"One of the things I like most about coming here is that I don't have to cook,'' Betty said with a smile. "We'd really hate to see it close. We'd miss the people we meet and the food and the conversation.''
Elsaesser said IRS rules permit him to maintain control of the property for at least six months after auction, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 22, according to an IRS notice.
The Farm - which opened for business hosting barn dances in the early 1940s - will continue to serve dinner buffets on Tuesdays, Thursdays and most Saturdays, Elsaesser said. He joked that the next buffet would be a special "IRS dinner" to raise money.
The Farm will also honor all future contracts for wedding receptions, anniversary celebrations and other events as long Elsaesser controls the property, he said: "I want my customers to be taken care of.''
But news of the IRS action is already beginning to hurt business. By the end of the day Monday, at least one customer had already called to cancel a planned November wedding reception, Elsaesser said.
Business had been picking up, he said, thanks in large part to tourist traffic from the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky as well as other nearby attractions.
"We get a lot of bus tours here now from the Ark and Creation Museum and a lot of other places sending us business,'' he said. "We're doing a lot more group gatherings. That's all been good for business.''
But Elsaesser said he’s struggled to keep up with his tax obligations for the past several years after failing to secure a $500,000 loan he had been counting on.
"I don't know what the banks are thinking,'' he said. "There's no way they could lose money on this property. They could sell the real estate and get their money back and more.''
Elsaesser said he still hopes to raise enough money through loans and private contributions to pay his back taxes and redeem the property from the successful bidder in the IRS auction.
"We have served the community for more than 70 years, and we want to stay in business,'' he said. "We're asking the public to pray for The Farm.''