Lasky’s lawyer disputes Pace’s claims and says the recent closure of Sophie’s Cafe “doesn’t mean it won’t open.”
The lawsuit alleges that Lasky misappropriated and squandered the company’s assets in pursuit of a “plot” to force a war sale of Pisor’s stake in their group of ten sites, which arose from the 2015 founding of Gold Coast steakhouse Maple & Ash.
Pisor maintains that Lasky violated severance agreements in April and did not consult him about business decisions, including closing the European-themed Sophie Café and another California restaurant.
“Lasky is effectively holding the company hostage. He is not responding properly to legal process or investor requests, and is allowing significant projects and deals to be canceled, defaulted, or canceled,” the July 6 filing reads. She alleges that Lasky threatened to fire restaurant staff if they were serving Besor.
Asked for comment, Lasky’s attorney, Douglas Wexler, said: “He deliberately picks things up to make himself seem like the victim, when the truth of the matter is, whatever he’s suggesting is not remotely accurate.”
A pop-up on the Cafe Sophie website reads: “Currently we are temporarily halting our operations for some ongoing maintenance issues. We hope to have more news on when we will reopen.”
Wexler says Sophie’s Café employees have been offered jobs at other company sites.
According to court documents, Pisor and Lasky each own just under a third of What If, as does the entity associated with Cafe Sophie Chef Danny Grant. Nine outside investors are suing Besor and Lasky, accusing them of using $6 million they invested in Maple & Ash, the state’s highest-income restaurant, and another under the same brand in Scottsdale, Arizona, to help fund restaurant projects operated by the defendants under different ownership.
Meanwhile, Pisor’s lawyers are trying to dismiss Wexler, arguing that his current role represents a conflict of interest after he represented both the company and Pisor.
“Wexler has obtained material confidential information about the Company and Pisor personally which he has as a result of using his position now, and will continue to use it, contrary to the interests of Pisor and the Company,” Jade Lambert and Lazar Raynal of King & Spalding say in court filing.
Wexler described the claim as “without merit” and “another strategy that would not bode well” for Bezer. The court set August 8 as the deadline for Wexler’s response.
Besor’s lawsuit alleges What If was denied legal representation after Lasky in March asked law firm Levenfeld Pearlstein to stop serving as its counsel. The company has resigned as a registered agent of What If, the lawsuit continues, leading to notices of default from the Illinois Secretary of State for not submitting annual reports. Wexler says What If has hired a new registered agent.
The lawsuit alleges that Lasky refused to pay a “significant amount of legal fees,” adding, “It is possible that Levenfeld Pearlstein will have to sue the company to recover its fees, further jeopardizing the company’s attorney-client privilege and further damaging the company’s reputation.”
Levenfield Pearlstein CEO and Managing Partner declined to comment.