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Plucky Cabin 12 eatery serves its last meal

Cabin 12, a restaurant that survived several near-closures but always found a faithful fan base for its homestyle food, has closed its doors for good.
Cabin 12 on Cedar Hill Road: An outpouring of support on Facebook was not enough to erase a $30,000 tax bill.

Cabin 12, a restaurant that survived several near-closures but always found a faithful fan base for its homestyle food, has closed its doors for good.

It started life on a shoestring budget in 2009 in a difficult spot in downtown’s Victoria Plaza Hotel and moved to the suburbs on Cedar Hill Road in 2012.

But Cabin 12 ran out of time, closing over the weekend under the weight of a $30,000 bill owed to Canada Revenue Agency.

“It’s sad to say goodbye, but at a certain point you have to let it go,” said founder Corey Judd. “We put everything we possibly could into it, but it’s just one of those things and it’s unfortunate.”

Judd, along with partners Heather and Dan Del Villano, said the death blow was the big tax bill for source deductions stemming from a period three years ago when they increased staff as they tried to strike the right balance at their new location.

“It’s unfortunate because the last couple of years have been the turnaround years. This year we actually made a profit,” Judd said. “But the CRA was going to collect and was going to start court action, and we just didn’t have anything left in the pockets.”

Judd said they had been chipping away at the debt, but last week realized they were “just too far behind the eight ball” and they knew their restaurant was never going to be the kind of money-maker that could wipe that debt out quickly.

At the time of closing, Cabin 12 had 12 staff. Judd said they are now going through the process to make sure staff and suppliers are paid.

Reaction on Cabin 12’s Facebook page was swift and supportive with the vast majority of the 125-plus notes declaring unbridled support for the owners and disappointment in the closing.

Felicia Harding wrote: “I’ll never forget Cabin 12! First restaurant I ever felt consistently proud to work at ... Corey, Dan and Heather you influenced so many in a positive way. My co-workers were really my friends and we all supported each other. It was amazing!”

Steph Churcher added: “Really sad to hear this! My all time favourite is the Jack Knox wrap. Went on my first breakfast date to Cabin 12 with my husband. We have shared a Jack Knox every time since [six years later].”

Lisa Tait summed up the sentiments of many posters with: “NOOOO!”

Tait also recalled how Judd had explained his vision was for a place “where not only would customers be treated to good food, but the staff would be treated very well. I was truly touched by your dream and could see the passion and potential for this business before it happened, and I was incredibly thrilled to see, just a few months later, how it all came together.”

Judd said they have always had great community support and tried to pay that back by running several fundraisers.

“Over the years, we’ve we’ve put $2 million to $3 million into the community, we’ve paid thousands in taxes and kept people working,” he said. “We started so far behind the eight ball, [so] the fact we made it six years, well, I’m pretty proud of that.”

The restaurant started at the troubled corner of Pandora Avenue and Government Street, where it weathered vandalism and a near-closure in its first year. Cabin 12’s downtown spot had to deal with the typical aftermath of late-night life in the core and the constant threat of having its lease pulled by developers looking at reinventing the hotel site. That spurred the move to the 65-seat site on Cedar Hill Road, which had previously been home to La Collina.

Cabin 12 had been on the cutting edge in many things and was one of the first Victoria stores to accept cyber-currency Bitcoin. It also accepted Canadian Tire money.

Judd said at this point the owners are regrouping. “We may lick our wounds and reassess,” he said.

As for what’s next, Judd said he will likely stay in the industry and make use of his knowledge. “I would be foolish not to with what I’ve learned,” he said.