Evans Diner, valued at $1 million, will remain open even though Clifford Poston had to forfeit ownership as part of his federal sentence.
Photo by Jim BlaylockTed and Grace McMillan have been operating the popular Evans Diner for a short seven months and have enjoyed every minute of it.
"To tell you frankly, it is a landmark place," McMillan said. "My wife and I, we really enjoy running the property and managing it and running it."
He said he hopes to continue running the diner despite its unclear fate.
The diner, valued at $1 million, was forfeited to the U.S. Department of Justice by former owner Clifford Poston, the president of Two State Construction Co., after his November sentencing for 42 criminal counts including conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion. Poston was also sentenced to 30 months of confinement, three years of supervised release and the repayment of $915,105 in back taxes.
Poston and Darwin A. Schneider, a former chief engineer of Monsanto/Searle Corp., was found guilty of cheating the the maker of the arthritis drug Celebrex out of millions through fraud and kickbacks.
The two also were sentenced to repay Monsanto more than $1.5 million.
According to Dan Drake, a public information officer in the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Justice Department has taken over ownership of the diner. McMillan made an agreement to lease the diner from Two State Construction Co., which the Justice Department is honoring.
Eventually the diner will be sold through a realtor after an updated appraisal of the property. But closing the diner is not an option until it is sold and even then, not definite, Drake said.
"It is like selling a hotel. When they sell a hotel, they do not close it. One day it has Marriot on the sign. The next day it says Red Roof Inn or whatever. There is no reason to close it down. It will not be sold on the courthouse steps."
The property will be sold as a piece of real estate openly or in a closed sale.
"I do not know what I might do, whether I will purchase it or I will pass it by," McMillan said. "I just do not know. I am willing to stay here on a month-to-month situation at the end of the lease. We enjoy it now. But if we cannot keep it and stay here, when we walk away, we will walk away smiling."
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