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New Management in Place, The Columbia Reopening on October 31

An ownership change could be in the works for the embattled bar.

After a two month plus hiatus, a new management team will tentatively reopen The Columbia Bar and Grille on October 31.

Daddy Mims owner John Mims confirmed to Patch that he has taken over management of the bar with an eye on possibly purchasing it, though he emphasizes nothing is official.

Mims said the bar, under his watch, has already hosted several events that were scheduled before its August closure and will reopen in earnest for a Halloween party later this month. The Columbia will keep evening hours after that, but Mims conceded he has “no idea” what exactly the schedule will be.

“We might just be open on the weekends. I’ve got my hands full with my restaurant right now,” he said, admitting that “there’s a lot of grey area” with the present arrangement.

Several sources told Patch that the Columbia's issues began when owner Daniel Cashman died in September of 2011. Mims, for his part, said the bar’s employees “ran the place into the ground.”

“There was no way it was going to survive,” he added.

Mims said that in his brief time at the bar’s helm, significant progress has been made.

“One thing’s for sure, it’s a lot cleaner. It’s spruced up a little bit,” he said, adding that there were a handful of code regulations the building had to get in compliance with, a problem that has since been addressed.

While it’s unclear what, if any, role Mims will play in the Columbia’s future, he said the Phoenixville mainstay isn't going anywhere.

“Either way it’s not gonna just stay dormant,” he said.

Ex Patron of the Columbia October 18, 2012 at 03:48 AM
If Daddy Mims is going to manage the place, I really hope HE has enough sense to pay the Columbia's employees so that people do not start boycotting his place as well. The employees are not going away, they want their money and I do not blame them. This is going to bring a lot of negative press on Daddy Mims establishment as well. Please do not patronize these establishments until they fulfill their moral obligation and payoff the employees and vendors they stiffed.
Michael Hill October 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM
How or why is John Mims responsible for paying former employees? That’s ludicrous. The former employees should take Ms. Cashman to court. She employed them not John Mims. John is stepping up to try and save a Phoenixville institution. I don’t see anyone else running in to rescue it. The Columbia was one a fine establishment but was mismanaged. I hope John and Kerri can turn it around with their own flare. I have had many a fine meal at Daddy Mims. The place is packed every Friday and Saturday night. That is the true indication of the quality of dinning.
Abby October 18, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I agree that Mims isn't legally responsible for the former staff's back pay, but the court of public opinion is not based on law. He even stated in the article that he was hosting events and working with them BEFORE the closure, so his hands aren't completely clean. It doesn't matter to me since French Quarter Bistro is way better creole anyhow, but it's just wrong to blame everything on the staff. I can't speak for all of the staff, I only really went there for a drink here and there, but the bar staff was great. Friendly, quick, and helpful. Blaming the staff is cheap and exceptionally bad business, especially in a small town. I love Phoenixville and want it to keep it coming up, but this deal sounds shady, and trashing a bunch of servers that haven't been paid is wrong. I hope they get the money they are owed, and unless Mims is buying the restaurant/business, I'm thinking the lawsuit over this would be his problem as the manager!
Ed Roper October 18, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Well said. I'm glad former employees have come her to defend themselves, and you're right in a small town it's in very poor taste to trash the employees of a place you're now going to be managing. Makes me not want to visit either establishment now.
Michael Hill October 18, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Abby I cannot share your experiences. I have been to the French Quarter Bistro once years ago. And I was at the Colombia before it closed for drinks. I wasn’t impressed. The service was slow and the drinks were not to my liking. I really hope John buys it and turns it around. The place is dated; the drapes are way too heavy and didn’t let in much needed light. It needs a complete makeover with references paid to the past. The Colombia once was a great place to eat, but that hasn’t been for many a year. We should be happy someone wants to save it. We don’t need another vacant building on Bridge Street.
Ed Roper October 18, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Good thing Mr. Mim knows a certain decorator with a very good eye who can help him do just that...
Abby October 18, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I want Bridge St to be bustling and full of restaurants, but Mims isn't some kind of savior here. He's a man looking to make money, nothing wrong with that, but the childish and unprofessional tactics he is using is simply wrong. It's not like the place has sat unwanted for months and he stepped in as the savior
Nemo Wine October 18, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Fenice Creolo will be opening on the site of the dead Epicurian -- http://phoenixville.patch.com/articles/goodbye-epicurean-hello-fenice-creolo
Grumpy October 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Mims isn't responsible to pay the employees out of his own pocket but as the new acting manager he should compel Donna Cashman to settle her debts. It is true, the servers and bar tends would pull money out of THEIR own pockets to buy the alcohol. The lat chef was paying for groceries himself. All while not being paid for 6-8 weeks. Servers never walked w/credit card tips, they went in their pay checks. The house needed the money to operate. Most of the time the bar never had enough alcohol to have a full bar. The servers, kitchen staff, and manager all cared, Cashman didn't. Not once did she ever attend staff meetings, address the lack of pay, or even say thank you to the staff, even though she was at the bar everyday!
Grumpy October 18, 2012 at 04:55 PM
The only person to blame is Donna Cashman. She was the owner. She was there everyday yet never went into the kitchen, ever! She never attended staff meetings. She knew no one was getting paid and yet she didn't care.
Bob demar October 19, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Mimms and the columbia will be a perfect fit - but to blame the bar staff on past mistakes is ludicrous - there were managers and owners in place but they failed to do their jobs. I know first hand that the bar staff had been the backbone of that establishment for quite some time. As stated above the bartenders spent their own money to buy liquor in order to serve the public all while the money was syphoned for managers pockets. also agreed a change of management does not forgive the past debt owed to past employees by the owners - many who have worked weeks on end for empty promises. It is no doubt with mimms great food and the ambiance of the old columbia hotel is a match made in heaven but to blame past employees who put their heart and soul into a place without any direction from owners or management is just plane wrong.
John Mims October 19, 2012 at 04:15 PM
This infuriates me to read something that was taken out of context. "The place was run into the ground" is what was said. The Patch has to get this right. All I'm doing is trying to help a neighbor out. A restaurant and bar is all about the staff, food, and service.The Columbia is a mainstay in this town and whoever takes it over will have the responsibility to keep the integrity of the place. Before anybody makes an opinion they should get the facts. Unless they are just angry all the time no one will take you seriously. It's very easy to have computer bravo. I'm not hard to find. Please call me at Daddy Mims. I would love to hear your concerns. Thank You.
Joni Houser October 19, 2012 at 04:52 PM
The facts are pretty clear the staff was never paid..and the on site owner ran it into the ground good luck to you John I hope you can restore the place and make it thrive another empty building on bridge st is the last thing this town needs.
We want our money October 20, 2012 at 11:07 AM
John, what about our pay?!? Or are you and Donna going to pocket the new staffs tips?
We want our money October 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM
John you failed to address your deadbeat business partners lack of ethical responsibility regarding not paying her former employees. Any comment or do you choose to ignore that fact?
LocalGirl October 20, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Will my gift card for the Columbia be honored? I believe that legally, unless you change the business name, you are obligated to honor. Does anyone know the rules here?
We want our money October 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I guarantee it will not.
. October 22, 2012 at 03:56 PM
This is why gift cards to bars and restaurants are never a good idea. Even the most seemingly successful places can go under without public warning. PS- After hearing how Mims and Cashman treated the employees of the Columbia, I will never step foot in either place ever again. I will also forward this story to everyone in Phoenixville I know so they too can see the truth. Waiters, cooks, bar tenders, etc...already struggle to make ends meet and stiffing them for their pay is simply disgraceful!
Joan Welliver December 30, 2012 at 12:29 AM
The employees of the Columbia spent their own money for liquor and for John Mims to down the employees is a disgrace. Mr. Mims wants this bar for one reason only. The LIQUOR LICENCE! I worked for the Gypsy Rose in Collegeville and the night he closed his buisness he paid every single person. To the Staff who is owed money and anyone who has gift certificates, please contact the better business bureau and the Columbia should remain closed until all of these issues’ are taken care of. And customers should boycott this Restaurant until everything is settled!
richard cheese February 24, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Hey did you know John Mimms has been squatting at the Columbia Hotel since October 2012, he has as yet to pay rent and is selling liquor without a license in his name? Word on the street was he called the cops on the current owner of the hotel to remove her from her own building.
John mims February 25, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Mr cheese, this is John mims. You do not have your facts ,you realy should not comment on some thing you know nothing abot. Computer bravado is easy to have. I work every day and night my restaurant is open. Stop by any time you want to be heard.
John mims February 25, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Mr.cheeses , this is John mims.You do not have your facts correct.You realy should not comment on something you know nothing abot. Computer bravado is easy to have. I work everyday and night in my restaurant , stop by any time if you realy need to be heard.
John February 25, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Oh, misguided opiniions, coming from Harry Finster. What a joke. John, I don't know the story, but please ignore anything that comes out of Harry's keyboard. He hasn't lived in Pville for 40 years, and is now on the other side of the country running from a pending 'Child Molestation' charge. It's amazing that he can come here with insults.
John February 25, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I don't care who you support you pedophile. You called everyone nitwits...I'm saying no one who is a child molestor should have an opinion or even be allowed to post here you sick freak. I don't know John Mim, I'm saying I'm pretty confident he doesn't care about the opinion of an admitted enabler of pedophiles.
John February 25, 2013 at 07:25 PM
nevermind, just realized this isn't the Harry the Pedophile, it's one of his many imposters :)
Laughing it Up February 26, 2013 at 06:50 PM
As a former employee who is still owed money and a W2! I find this hilarious! Donna is telling everyone the same story about Mims squatting and calling the cops on her. Are we supposed to feel sorry for her!?? Donna it is called, "What comes around, goes around." Donna and Mims seems to a perfect match for each other. They are now like rats on a sinking ship, scrambling to save themselves. I must say, best of luck Mims, hope your squatters rights do nothing more than drive Donna and her legal costs up.
Steve Boyle February 27, 2013 at 10:31 PM
As a current employee of The Columbia, I would like to say that since working here John Mims has done an outstanding job of turning around a dead establishment. Donna Cashman, in the meantime, has done nothing but act like a spoiled irresponsible, non contributing, drunk, child. She treated the new employees of The Columbia like her personal servants. She told people not to tip us. Her and her freeloading boyfriend Bob drank and ate lavishly on the company dime. And when the gravy train ended, they made a spectacle of themselves on a Saturday night in a lame attempt to provoke a reaction from John and the staff. I can only hope the Donna Cashman gets hers in the near future. I can only imagine how bad it must have been to work for her.
Donna's former servant February 27, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Thank you Steve for bringing a smile to my face. Donna has ALWAYS treated everyone who worked for her as beneath her. Even when she was drinking bottles of Booze that WE paid or her! She is the most smug, poor person I have ever met! She would bring in groups of her Mainline friends for us to serve and cater too, and would not tip us. She would rack up over $150 nightly when she couldn't even pay us. It was bc of the management that we stayed. Now she has filed Chapter 11 trying to save her sorry restaurant. Where else will she be able to drink and eat for free nightly!?!
John Richards March 04, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Somebody with some brains, taste and talent (that leaves anyone from Phoenixville out) should come in and get rid of the horrible reputation that place has. I think we have Doug Murray to thank for the decline of that property.
Down Fall of the Columbia March 26, 2013 at 05:09 PM
I have a few facts: The old emplyees are still owed back pay from the Columbia/Donna. The Columbia (dba the Nectarine Group) filled for Chapter 11 on February 20, 2013. http://www.palawdirectory.com/listingsdb/static/petition0226.htm The Nectarine Group also filled a claim against John Mims in Philadlphia Court for recovery of money or property. (go to the bottom of the list)http://www.palawdirectory.com/listingsdb/static/petition0307.htm Too bad Mims tangled with the devil.

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