The New Prague Hotel has stood empty for more than two years, since owner John Schumacher and his wife, Kathleen, closed the doors of the popular gourmet restaurant and Old World inn.

Now it looks like it will stand empty even longer.

Two months after the property sold at auction, prospective owner Caroline Amplatz wants out of the deal. In a letter sent to Schumacher Nov. 21, she cancelled the purchase agreement and asked for a refund of the $25,000 down payment she made on the hotel in September.

Amplatz, who had planned to convert the hotel into an event center, said she was frustrated with complications that pushed the closing date past the 30-day timeframe outlined in the deal.

"Kathleen and I are just shell-shocked," Schumacher said Friday, adding that he's not sure what he will do next. "We had to get it in our minds that it was gone. Now all of a sudden we've got this big monstrous mess to deal with."

Schumacher said he bought the hotel for about $100,000 in 1974 and spent more than $500,000 renovating it.

His restaurant, known for its Czech and German dishes, was a landmark for locals and an attraction that drew diners from throughout Minnesota and beyond.

Amplatz bought the hotel at auction Sept. 19 for $360,000, plus an auctioneer's commission of about $30,000. The sale came months after Schumacher got no takers when he solicited sealed bids for the property with a minimum asking price of $795,000.

The closing was delayed because Schumacher included a small strip of parking lot in the sale that was actually tied to his mortgaged home next door, according to Schumacher and his attorney, Richard Wornson.

Shumacher wanted to make sure the hotel had adequate parking, but in order to transfer the hotel's title, he had to remove the mortgage encumbrances from the 26-foot-wide strip of property.

Schumacher called the problem "fixable" and said the sale could have gone through by the first week in December.

That wasn't good enough for Amplatz. "We were to be given clear title," she said earlier this month, adding that the deal was supposed to close on Oct. 19.

Meanwhile, many residents wonder what will replace the restaurant that was once an anchor of downtown New Prague.

"I think everybody is curious, and they'd like to see it being used for something," City Administrator Jerry Bohnsack said earlier this month. "We're patiently waiting to see what the new owner or the old owner propose to do with the building."

Sarah Lemagie • 612-673-7557