AP NEWS

Banko’s Restaurant Heads To Sheriff’s Sale

April 5, 2019

WEST NANTICOKE — J.J. Banko’s seafood restaurant, a popular venue that abruptly closed after the 2017 death of its owner, is slated to be sold in June at a Luzerne County sheriff’s sale.

The mortgage lender for Banko’s filed foreclosure proceedings against the estate of Jeff Bankovich following his death in October 2017.

A judgement for $903,555 was recently awarded to the mortgage lender, which included $384,671 in principal balance plus daily interest and other fees that accrued since his death.

“There’s basically no assets in the estate. There’s mortgages. There’s liens against the property. It’s unfortunate what happened,” said Kingston attorney Thomas O’Connor, who was appointed by the county Register of Wills Office to administer Bankovich’s estate.

In August 2017, two months before his death, Bankovich took out a two-year, $402,000 mortgage on the restaurant along Route 11 that required daily payments of $1,492.99 to New Jersey-based World Business Lenders, court records show.

Bankovich, 44, who had been recovering from several strokes, died Oct. 19, 2017.

It was not immediately clear what the starting bid for Banko’s will be when the property is auctioned during the June 7 sheriff’s sale, starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Luzerne County Courthouse. The property is assessed at $328,700 for tax purposes, according to county records.

The Luzerne County Tax Claim Bureau has also sought to auction other properties Bankovich owned due his and his estate’s failure to pay back taxes. They include lots and property adjoining the restaurant, 821 Beverly Drive in Plymouth Twp. and 68 Park Ridge Road in Hunlock Twp.

State and federal tax liens also remain against the business, totaling at least $98,733.

Longtime friends say Bankovich was a visionary businessman who developed a cult following of customers who loyally flocked to J.J. Banko’s on U.S. Route 11 near the intersection with state Route 29.

Bankovich bought the family business, then known as Banko’s, from a realtor in 1999. He renamed it J.J. Banko’s.

Since that time, the restaurant was flooded four times. Each time, Bankovich bounced back quickly, with an army of friends volunteering to do the work. Because the business was located in the floodplain, near Harveys Creek and the Susquehanna River, he couldn’t get flood insurance and funded renovations out of pocket.

Bankovich liked to have a little fun with his battles with flooding.

“Located along (and sometimes in) the water on Route 11 in West Nanticoke,” read advertisements he placed in The Citizens’ Voice.

Contact the writer:

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2055, @cvbobkal