NJ Entrepreneur Buys AQUA, Marina, Shops for $4.6 Million
Click the PLAY button above to watch the auction. Buyer Robert Occhifinto is on right. (WAVE video)
By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
December 29, 2012
Five bidders signed up for the trustees’ auction yesterday in front of the Northampton County Courthouse, where AQUA restaurant, Bay Creek Marina, adjoining shops, and Marina Village rental units were on the block.
But when bidding began at $3.3 million, the amount due on the bank note, the players quickly dropped to two: Eastville attorney Bert Turner, and New Jersey entrepreneur Robert Occhifinto.
Turner presumably was representing a client, while Occhifinto was bidding for himself.
The two began by raising each other’s bid by the minimum allowed — $10,000. Occhifinto soon tired of that game and bid a full $3.6 million.
Turner followed suit at $3.7 million.
And so it went for the next minute or so, until Turner bid $4.5 million. Occhifinto immediately came back with $4.6, and Turner was silent. That was his limit.
And so a new major investor has appeared on the lower Eastern Shore. Robert Occhifinto has actually been around for a while, but until 11:30 a.m. yesterday, few realized the extent of his interest or the depth of his pockets.
According to reports, over the last year or so, Occhifinto has:
— Purchased and rehabbed the Peacock Motel next to Sting-Ray’s restaurant in Capeville;
— Bought Southern Shores subdivision south of Sting-Ray’s;
— Acquired most of Cherrydale subdivision near Machipongo; and
— Begun constructing an imposing residence on Savage Neck.
Asked his plans for AQUA, Occhifinto told the WAVE that he hoped to reopen the restaurant as soon as possible, but that a lot needed to be worked out first.
Asked if he would rehire the former AQUA staff, he said, “That’s the plan.”
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Occhifinto was unable to say whether the restaurant would retain the name AQUA.
Earlier this week, all the exterior furniture was removed from AQUA, but interior tables and chairs remain. Bay Creek Marina and the Complete Angler, which are operated under contract, have remained open.
The trustees’ sale satisfies Bay Creek Marina and Resort LLC’s obligation to the bank, but it does nothing to resolve the lawsuits between former owners Richard “Dickie” Foster and Paul Galloway.
According to a complaint filed last January in Virginia Beach Circuit Court, Bay Creek owes Galloway $5.625 million for a 37.5 percent membership interest in Bay Creek Marina and Resort.
Foster has also sued Galloway for failure to pay homeowners association fees, and Galloway has countersued Foster for failure to maintain and complete common areas in Marina Village, as well as other complaints.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on Occhifinto, who has an extensive history on Google. Occhifinto, 51, founded NVE Pharmaceuticals in Andover, NJ, in 1980 upon graduating from high school. NVE, a maker of energy shots, energy drinks, capsules, and tablets, enjoyed a meteoric rise in sales, but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005, from which it emerged successfully.
Occhifinto testified at House Committee hearings on ephedra dietary supplements on July 23, 2003, and his complete testimony may be viewed at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Ephed by fast-forwarding to 01:02:15.