Judge: Investors can sell or close TV chef Rocco DiSpirito’s restaurant
NEW YORK (AP) — Financial backers of celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito can sell or close the Italian eatery developed for the NBC reality series, “The Restaurant,” a judge ruled Tuesday.
Acting Justice Ira Gammerman gave the go-ahead to Jeffrey Chodorow and his China Grill Management investment group to dispose of Rocco’s restaurant following a hearing to decide whether DiSpirito was, as he claimed, a 50 percent owner.
“I don’t think you are obligated to run a restaurant that’s losing money,” the judge told Chodorow’s lawyer, Laurence Kaiser.
Chodorow’s group sued DiSpirito in February over alleged mismanagement and financial losses at Rocco’s; Chodorow says more than $4.7 million was invested.
DiSpirito’s lawyer, Steven Hayes, argued Monday against selling Rocco’s, saying it had made a “substantial profit” for two of the past three months. “The restaurant, with Rocco’s involvement, can be turned around and made profitable,” Hayes said.
During the hearing, Chodorow testified he never promised the 37-year-old chef he would be a 50 percent owner. But Hayes noted the restaurant’s liquor license application and other business records name DiSpirito as half owner.
The judge did not rule on the ownership issue.
Gammerman also said he was changing a temporary restraining order that kept DiSpirito out of Rocco’s into an injunction — meaning the chef cannot enter the restaurant until the ownership issue is formally decided.
Chodorow said outside court he may renovate Rocco’s, rename it and reopen under a different theme and concept.
I watched this disaster of a reality show and can’t agree more with the judge – I’ve never been a fan of Rocco’s from the start since he seems to be too full of himself and the series sure didn’t change that impression.
maybe he’ll have more time now to sell his cookbook.
yes, I DO have too much time on my hands…