Farmers Cabinet: Sheriff Sale or Awesome Practical Joke?


From the Department of Things That Totally Don’t Shock Us comes this photo making the rounds on social media. It’s a sheriff sale sign, and the other day, it was taped to the front window of the Farmers Cabinet, that doomed Walnut Street restaurant/cocktail bar whose one owner has a — shall we say — troubling legal history that even includes a stint in federal prison.

But why dredge up all that old history? After all, co-owner Matt Swartz did his time for wire fraud. And I’m sure that he has paid off those hundreds of thousands of dollars in old judgments against him in Pennsylvania and Delaware and that he’s settled that local suit with East Falls developer Mark Sherman, his landlord at Fork & Barrel, the restaurant Swartz abruptly abandoned, supposedly “tearing out in the middle of the night.” Old news, right? Bygones!

So what’s with the sheriff sale sign indicating that the entire contents of the Farmers Cabinet will be sold off on September 23rd at noon?

Well, when I called the Farmers Cabinet the other day to find out, none of the owners were available. But the bartender I spoke with said that he didn’t see any such sign when he showed up for work that day. “I really don’t know anything about that,” he told me. “I guess someone took it down before you got to work,” I replied. “My guess would be that it’s some type of practical joke,” he offered.

Which would be awesome.

I called the Sheriff’s Office to find out if the sign was legit or an awesome practical joke. Sheriff spokesman Joe Blake told me that his office doesn’t know anything about the sign.

“But that doesn’t really mean anything,” Blake explained. “You see, the city or someone can go put that sign up, and we wouldn’t necessarily know anything yet. You see, we only come in at the tail end of the process.”

Yes, I see. So if it is real, what on earth could it be about?

Well, Swartz actually didn’t settle his suit with Sherman. The court found in favor of Sherman, ordering Swartz to pay up to the tune of $54,000. But Swartz has appealed that case to Superior Court, so that couldn’t have anything to do with the sheriff sale, if there really is a sheriff sale.

Then there’s the $45,000 judgment against Swartz, his wife Colleen and partner Matt Scheller after a recent legal battle over some real estate deal involving 824 South 8th Street, which was once James and is now the Mildred. Swartz probably wanted to open a tiki hibachi grog brewpub with naked elfin servers there. Maybe the purported sheriff sale has something to do with that.

Or, heck, I guess it could be that pesky lien that was just filed by Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor & Industry against the Grainery Restaurant Group, Swartz’s company that operates the Farmers Cabinet. According to documents filed in Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court, Swartz and his pals owe the state more than $33,000 in unpaid unemployment compensation contributions.

Or, yes, maybe it is just some awesome practical joke. I, for one, am laughing.

Around The Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • HowTheHeck

    Wow, just wow

  • Haha

    I’ve spoken to former staff at Farmers Cabinet, and (like many other Philadelphia restaurants) their owners are anything but professional. Hopefully this Sheriff Sale helps pay all of the money owed to employees for the past few years.

    • rk

      while many restaurant owners suck and aren’t professional, the FC crew is particularly heinous.

  • Big deal

    Let me just make sure I have my facts straight: the sign was taken down before being seen by anyone but the anonymous photographer, the bartender says it sounds like a practical joke, you agree, and the Sheriff’s office doesn’t know anything about it. Dude, are you even trying to be a reporter?

    • Plugz

      And in the meantime, he drudges every bit of circumstantial, likely impertinent, dirt out. What an absolute dickhead.

      • Big deal

        It seems to me that the answer to his question of why to “dredge up all this old history” is that otherwise there’s no story here. In fairness to Mr. Fiorillo, it’s been a while since he’s dredged this particular history up, and you can’t expect a man to find something new to write about every week, after all.

  • FC

    wow!!! even low for you victor, had nothing to write about, so you post some fake notice on are door and then admit you can’t confirm anything. If your laughing, it’s probably because you got a glance of your silly cross dressing ass in the mirror.

    • MK

      does anyone else think he “plants” things in order to have a story? residents who live in the ‘hood (gayborhood/midtown/place where Green Eggs is) raised eyebrows when he posted the pic of rats in the cafe…just happened to be walking by at 2am on a sunday? hmm…

      • vfiorillo

        Ha, that’s an awesome theory, sort of like the practical joke theory. Love it!

        • MK

          you oversold your tale by crediting yourself with the “awesome” practical joke.

        • yes

          I saw the rats with my own eyes, at 11pm, and it was a perfectly normal time to be walking in the gayborhood on a Sunday night – because it was Pride… So he may be making *some* things up, but that one is definitely true.

  • Jimmy

    Do Phoebe and Christian still work at Farmers Cabinet?

  • rk

    amazing how victor could find a way to make the slimeball owners of farmer’s cabinet not seem like the worst part of a story. it’s actually quite impressive in a derp sort of way.

  • P

    did anyone else notice the scotch tape clearly visible in the photo? I’m pretty sure the sherries sale notices are a monster sticker like the zoning notices.

  • JM
    • Maybe

      But you can’t answer this question with a no.

      • no

        Sure you can. Watch this.

        Sheriff Sale at the Farmers Cabinet? No.

        What was so hard about that?

  • JA

    Either way…who cares? The only thing relevant at Farmers Cabinet is the beer. Otherwise, it’s an old story, with an old cast…and a repeated plot.

  • CrazyCabbie

    well? Today was the day