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.

Click here to view the full complaint.

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

their restaurant.

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.

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John Linn