Owners of da Francesco's File Suit Against 251 Sunrise
Not all is well on the sleepy Island of Palm Beach. Owners of the new organic Italian restaurant da Francesco's have filed suit against the restaurant's landlords, 251 Partners.
The complaint was officially submitted to the Palm Beach County Clerk of the Court on September 11, following a strange turn of events at the restaurant that led to the property lessees seizing the restaurant's assets and employees and continuing to operate it under a different name.
Read the full complaint after the jump.
Two weeks ago, the Palm Beach Post's Jose Lambiet broke the story
that the owners of da Francisco -- a group led by West Palm
restaurateur Frank Cilione -- had been excised from their restaurant by
the current lesees of the space, 251 Partners. Cilione's group had been
subleasing the space, which 251 Partners had intended to run as a
The catch was the town of Palm Beach has strict rules against
operating nightclubs on the island. To skirt the law, 251 Partners
struck the deal with da Francisco, which would allow the restaurant to
run in the space until 10 p.m. and the nightclub to take over
But there were two problems with the plan: One, Palm Beach saw through
the ruse and warned 251 Partners that operating two businesses from the
same address was against the law. The other: 251 Partners did not have the
legal right to sublease the space to another firm.
To get rid of their problem, 251 Partners staged a coup. On September
3, they changed the locks on the building and refused entry to the
owners of da Francesco's. A trespass warrant was also filed and Palm
Beach Police were called to inform Cilione's people that they could not
enter the restaurant.
The staff of da Francesco's was allowed to enter, however. They've
since been retained by 251 Partners, who have also commandeered
everything inside the restaurant, from the tables and chairs to kitchen
supplies, food, wine, and even the registers. The name has been changed
to the "Restaurant at 251," but the menu and concept remain the same.
Even the head chef, Seth Kirschbaum, formerly of Sublime in Fort Lauderdale, is working for the "new" ownership. The restaurant continues to operate nightly.
Meanwhile, Cilione's group retained West Palm attorney Kenneth Curtin
to represent them against 251 Partners, who they claim illegally stole
The complaint alledges that 251 Partners had no legal right to reposses
property within their contract, especially since 251 gave no written notice and da Francesco had been in full compliance of the contract.
Further, they claim da Francesco's ownership had never been informed
that 251 Partners had no legal right to sublease the property.
group is seeking an immediate injunction to stop 251 from operating the restaurant as well as damages. A hearing
is scheduled for this Wednesday.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to South Florida dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.