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It's Been A Dramatic Week For Restaurant Legal Disputes

By Anthony Todd in Food on Sep 28, 2016 6:34PM

Steak Frites at The Blanchard, which we hope remains open despite the drama. Photo by Grant Kessler.

We're used to all sorts of restaurant drama—chef shuffles, feuds between journalists and restaurants—but when something hits the courts, you know it's pretty serious. In the last week, there have been two high-profile lawyered-up fights in the food world. Let's dive in.

First, last Wednesday, the owner of The Blanchard, one of the most acclaimed new restaurants of 2015, brought a lawsuit against the chef of the restaurant. Crain's originally reported that Richard Duffy, the majority owner of the restaurant, sued Jason Paskewitz, executive chef and minority owner, for allegedly diverting more than half a million dollars from the restaurant. Duffy's suit alleges that Paskewitz mingled personal and restaurant funds to avoid IRS liens.

Interestingly, Duffy's lawyer told Eater that Duffy would like Paskewitz to remain the chef, despite the lawsuit. That's gonna create an awkward workplace.

In other legal drama, The Budlong's Lakeview location (which, you might recall, was originally the location of Chef Elizabeth Regan's short-lived Bunny: The Microbakery) has shuttered. The owner of The Budlong, Jared Leonard, is trying to get away from partner Philip Tadros, the owner of Bowtruss Coffee who has been in the midst of an unfolding restaurant business scandal.

Leonard told Eater that vendors wouldn't work with The Budlong, because it was affiliated with Tadros and that he didn't get some of the business support that Tadros had promised. The two sides are negotiating a settlement and an separation, but in the meantime, the restaurant is closed and the only way you can get the Budlong's awesome chicken is by going to their location at Revival Food Hall. Recall that Bunny lasted just about the same amount of time (four months) and shuttered. Is the space cursed? Or, as Leonard is claiming, did Tadros withhold the support he had promised?

Bad things come in threes—so what restaurant is going to be embroiled a lawsuit next?