Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suit Names Company Guarantor of City Loan; Jacksonville Bank Says KJB Specialties Has Defaulted on Different Loan

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Suit Names Company Guarantor of City Loan; Jacksonville Bank Says KJB Specialties Has Defaulted on Different Loan

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

A Jacksonville company that guaranteed a $380,000 city loan for a Jerome Brown BBQ Sauce manufacturing plant is facing a lawsuit that contends it defaulted on a different loan.

The Jacksonville Bank is suing KJB Specialties Inc., which was started by Jerome Brown and his wife, JoAnn Brown, over what the bank says is KJB Specialties' failure to make payments since April 2015 on a $50,000 loan the bank provided in 2007.

KJB Specialties, which owns the Jerome Brown BBQ restaurant on Edgewood Avenue, is a guarantor for a $380,000 loan the city of Jacksonville made to Cowealth LLC to help purchase and renovate a warehouse building on Commonwealth Avenue for mass production of Jerome Brown's signature sauces.

The managing members of Cowealth are JoAnn Brown and her daughter Katrina Brown, who serves on the City Council.

A guarantor is the entity that will step in as a backstop to ensure payment of a debt if the original recipient of the loan does not. In the case of the city's loan to Cowealth, the guarantors of the loan are KJB Specialties, JoAnn Brown, Katrina Brown and Basic Products LLC, whose managing members are JoAnn Brown and Katrina Brown, according to city documents.

JoAnn Brown did not return calls and an email seeking comment.

Katrina Brown said the lawsuit by The Jacksonville Bank does not involve her in any way.

She said Cowealth is up to date on making its loan repayments to the city. "Everything is good," she said.

The business sells its barbecue sauces at Winn-Dixie and Sam's Club stores.

The plant at 5638 Commonwealth Ave. did not have any cars parked in its lot when visited Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning.

According to the city's development agreement, the plant must have at least 56 jobs by April 30. If the company falls short, it must repay the city $4,443 for each job below the target. Katrina Brown said "we'll meet the target of what we're supposed to meet. …

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