A waiter called me with some stories about Scott Rothstein's headquarters in his Gotham act, a little place called Bova Prime.
And it was funny hearing the waiter's story. This guy had such similar thoughts about Rothstein and the restaurant on Las Olas that held its grand opening on January 13 with a party attended by Dan Marino, a slew of Miami Dolphins, and Adrian Grenier from Entourage.
"From the first minute I saw Rothstein, he was like a cartoon villain in a Batman comic book," said the waiter, who didn't want to be named for obvious reasons. "He had these stripes on the Tom James suits and the loud colors. The clothes never fit him right, his body style.
"He and his wife, Kimberly, would come in and eat, and they would have two bodyguards sitting at a table nearby. Then they would get in a fight and go in different directions, and the bodyguards would scramble around not knowing where to go. I'm telling you, it was comical."
He described how when Rothstein would walk in, people would come to kiss his ring. It wasn't just Marino, Ronnie Brown, Channing Crowder and other star athletes, it was major stars like Ludacris. Then there was a slew of "cronies" and politicians who regularly frequented the place.
"He had this arrogance and bravado and it came down through Bova Prime through the managers and through the entire restaurant," he said. "I always felt the restaurant was a reflection of Rothstein. Guys would be in the middle of eating a burger and Rothstein would come in and they would stop eating and walk over to see if it was really him. I was like, 'Why? Who is this guy?' He would come in waving like Queen Elizabeth, with a big wide walk, a bit of a waddle. And I'm thinking why is everybody kissing this guy's ass?"
The waiter said Rothstein's parents would come in regularly as well.
"I hate to pick on his parents, because they seem like good people, but his father dressed in the most crazy way sometimes," the waiter said. "He would wear these Ed Hardy t-shirts with the rhinestones on them and these baggy, kind of rap-style jeans. I mean, here's a 75-year-old man in the baggy jeans and an $80 t-shirt. It was comical. All the money, it was just like they won the lotto and didn't know what to do with all the money."
He said it's not funny anymore. The waiter doesn't expect the place to last much longer after Rothstein's implosion. Business has already slowed; there's no buzz in the air anymore, he said. Yet talking about what's going on is met with anger from management. If people talk about the elephant in the room, they might even be threatened with firing.
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"It's a powder keg there right now -- you can't talk about it," he said. "It's really sad what's happening. There isn't the same vibe in the air. Rothstein was a regular stimulus package, that guy. He'd come in, spend five or six hundred dollars, drop a $200 tip. When there were five or six people, you'd get into the thousands of dollars. You know, the cronies would come around. The Renato Watches guy, Ovi [Levy]. He's ... rude. He's Israeli and the Israelis are kind of harsh."
Ovi Levy, an owner of the Renato watch company in which Rothstein owned a stake, reportedly invested millions into Rothstein's scheme.
Like the spokesman from Casa Casuarina yesterday, the waiter said he felt sorry for Tony Bova and Jack Jackson, two principles in the Bova Group. He said the closing last month of Boca Ristorante in Boca Raton had nothing to do with the implosion, but was due only to slow business and money loss.
"I think there's going to be a padlock on [Bova Prime]," he said. "Rothstein was the guy with deep pockets at the company. I wonder what he did to Jack Jackson. Does anybody know if Jackson got money for those restaurants or did he just get a piece of Rothstein's operation? He probably got so screwed, poor guy. Mr. Jackson is a very nice guy, very courteous, and polite."