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Izatys Resort On Mille Lacs Lake in Northern Minnesota
 Closes, Files for Bankruptcy, May be Sold
Star Tribune, MinneapolisMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 2, 2008 - The owners of venerable Izatys resort on Mille Lacs Lake have filed for bankruptcy and hope to auction the property early next year, according to their lawyer and a recent filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minneapolis.

For now, Izatys is closed, and at a hearing on Jan. 10, attorney Jim Baillie will ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher to review a plan to sell the lakeshore golf resort.

"We are asking the court to approve the hiring of Albert Burney, a national real estate firm, to conduct the auction ... and we're seeking to have the auction sale on March 27, 2008," Baillie said in an interview on Friday.

The owners, who bought Izatys in 2003, are listed as Dave Kramber of Onamia, Minn., the home of Izatys; Al Gluck of Colfax, Wis., and David Thomas of Chetek, Wis. Izatys, which opened in 1922, is about 90 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

A glut of golf courses, the lakeshore-condo boom, reductions in government and corporate retreats and recent low-snow winters for snowmobilers and skiers all cut into Izatys' revenue in recent years.

Say "Fitger's" to Minnesotans and they might start to shiver, as if they're sitting on a cold beach but one so beautiful they can't pull themselves away. That's the North Shore for you, where places like Fitger's Inn & Brewery cater to tourists with a perverse sense of weather.

Among the Duluth hotel's attractions: a tasty home brew sold on the premises. But this summer, the Twin Ports institution, run by the Duluth-based company Fitger's-on-the-Lake, learned just how popular its beer has become when an unwelcome imitator started selling his own version.

Douglas Donnelly, who claims to be a grandson of brewery founder August Fitger, used labels and packaging that were similar to Fitger's Inn and opened a website at that a court ordered him to close.

The hotel slapped a trademark infringement lawsuit on Donnelly, his distributor and the Connecticut-based company that made "Fitger beer."

A federal judge handed a victory to the hotel Dec. 20, slapping a preliminary injunction on Donnelly. The ruling from U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said that Fitger's Inn had suffered irreparable injury and that even if Donnelly is a Fitger grandson, he can't use the Fitger mark or trade in the company's goodwill, according to a statement from Faegre & Benson, the law firm that represented Fitger's Inn.

By Neal St. Anthony, Matt McKinney


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