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Autoport Battling Back From Bankruptcy, But Deadlines Still Loom

by on June 01, 2015 6:30 AM

The owners of the Autoport Motel are still passionately fighting to ensure the long term future of their business, but time is running short.

Two months after declaring bankruptcy, they have a little more 60 days left to come up with a rescue plan.

And at this point, co-owners Greg and Lynda Mussi still have a lot of work to do if they want Pennsylvania’s oldest motel to survive.

The Mussis were forced to take drastic measures to save their business in April. They filed for “chapter 11 reorganization,” a specific kind of bankruptcy designed to help companies stay in business and pay off creditors by restructuring their debts.

“That gave us 120 days to come up with a plan,” Greg Mussi says. “We’re about halfway through, so we have sixty some days before we submit a plan to be reviewed by a district judge in Harrisburg.”

Mussi says he’s encountered some misconceptions about what exactly the reorganization means. Despite some impressions to the contrary, the Autoport remains open for business – and, with a little luck, Mussi says it will stay that way for a long time.

“The outcome of filing for Chapter 11 isn’t to liquidate the business, and its not to back out of our debts,” Mussi says. “This is designed to keep businesses in business – and it works. Just look at GM.”

Although the Autoport's public struggles weren’t good for business, Mussi says people are starting to realize the landmark plans on sticking around. As summer gets underway, business at the Autoport is ticking up as seasonal visitors and construction crews come into town.

The adjoining Clem’s Roadside Bar and Grill – which is a separate business from the Autoport and has not had the same financial troubles – also does well in the summer with its outdoor entertainment, tiki bar and open pool.

“This is our season to shine,” Mussi says.

But while things are looking bright for the summer, the Mussis still have to come up with a long-term game plan. Will they bring aboard an investor to reinvigorate the Autoport? Will they refinance their mortgage with a new bank? Will they contract out the management of the motel to private company? Will they sell the property outright?

Mussi says that each of those possibilities is still on the table, although he’s opposed to selling outright – especially if the new owners would tear down the State College landmark.

Although Mussi says making a decision will take time, especially since negotiations are ongoing with several different interested parties, but he and his wife have to have the details nailed down by this coming August.

Even after months of public struggle – including an appearance on national reality television (“I still have nightmares about that sometimes,” Mussi says, half-joking) – Mussi hopes he’ll be able to continue running the business he loves.

“I was always taught that passion are hard work are the recipe for success,” Mussi says. “I haven’t given up on that.”

 

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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