KETTERING — Bidding has commenced on the equipment and furnishings inside the former l’Auberge restaurant, which are being sold through an online auction conducted by Mason-based Worley Auctioneers.
“After 33 years serving fine French cuisine, Kettering, Ohio’s legendary l’Auberge restaurant has closed its doors, and everything from floor to ceiling must go!” reads a sign that was posted in front of the restaurant late last week. “Restaurant equipment, custom wine racks, bar back and counter, antique and contemporary furniture, cool light fixtures and much, much more.”
Bidders in the “Absolute Online Restaurant Auction” can examine the items up for auction during a “preview day” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25, and online bidding begins to close at 4 p.m. Jan. 26, with the auction closing at intervals of 10 items per minute. The auction will follow a “dynamic closing” format in which the closing time of an item is automatically extended an additional five minutes whenever a bid is placed within the last 5 minutes of the item’s closing time, according to the auction company.
The restaurant at 4120 Far Hills Ave. has been closed since February 2012 after it was foreclosed upon. The Lebanon Citizens National Bank started foreclosure proceedings in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court in 2010 after claiming l’Auberge defaulted on three mortgage notes and owed the bank more than $1.6 million. In August 2011, an 11th-hour agreement between l’Auberge owner Josef Reif and the bank canceled a scheduled sheriff’s sale of the building and property, and allowed the restaurant to remain open while Reif searched for investors. But six months later, Reif closed the restaurant’s doors and turned the keys over to the bank.
The restaurant building and property adjacent to Town & Country shopping center are still owned by Lebanon City National Bank, according to Montgomery County property records.
Reif and the late Dieter Krug founded l’Auberge in 1979, transforming a restaurant known as The Inn into a fine-dining establishment. L’Auberge earned a coveted and rare four-star rating from the Mobil Travel Guide the first year it was eligible for rating, and held the rating for 19 years through 2002. The restaurant survived even as other highly credentialed fine-dining restaurants such as King Cole in downtown Dayton and the Maisonette in Cincinnati, once Ohio’s only five-star restaurant, were forced to close several years prior to l’Auberge’s demise.