We wrote yesterday about the break between restaurateur Mico Rodriguez and the Mesero Restaurant Group. At the time of the post, we were unable to reach Rodriguez. I spoke last night with Larry Friedman, the attorney who represents Rodriguez. “This started in December,” Friedman says of the ongoing tensions between Rodriguez and his partners in Mr. Mesero. “They fired Mico and he filed for wrongful termination.”
Mediation followed, and all parties arrived at a standstill with negotiations.
The legal action cited in the press release sent out yesterday by Trey Dyer, President and CEO of Mesero Restaurant Group, is a lawsuit that includes a temporary restraining order aimed at halting access to monies and accounts linked to the business. It is essentially a closing of purse strings and a request for a trial by jury, a court-appointed receiver, and restitution of losses of over $1 million.
“I’m shocked that they filed a lawsuit in the middle of negotiations,” Friedman says. “We’ll be down there tomorrow to dissolve the temporary restraining order. I want Ryan Rogers’ deposition. I want to know why they’re bullying Mico.”
The contents of the lawsuit include claims that Rodriguez allotted himself a “salary,” levied unjustified licensing fees, and “looted” from bank accounts, as also reported by The Dallas Morning News.
The outcome of the legal action is unclear, but this is only one of several high-profile cases in the Dallas restaurant industry in recent years, including those involving Bob Sambol of Bob’s steakhouse and more recently Kent Rathbun.
As for Rodriguez’s hopes, Friedman says of the man who owns 30 percent of the company, “He’d like to get new backers.” “They won’t sell,” though, he says of the partners, now-plaintiffs. “They have the right of first refusal.”
There may be more upheaval on the horizon for the Mesero business.