Lobster Ruckus

When restaurateurs mix with lawyers, things get messy

It's no mystery why bibs are strapped to diners before they arm themselves with pipe wrenches and little twin-pronged awls to mutilate whole lobsters: Lobster butter-splatter makes a Loony Toon tie look like hell. The real mystery is why bibs aren't strapped on before adults are allowed to play with lawyers, who can mess up far more than swell neckties. Phil Romano and Luke Crosland, founders of the defunct Lobster Ranch, must be up to their chins in lobster bibs, being that Romano slapped Crosland, who owned the property in Preston Center where the restaurant was situated, with a lawsuit, alleging fraud and breach of contract. (Crosland did not return calls for comment.) According to the suit, Romano--creator of Romano's Macaroni Grill, Nick & Sam's, Eatzi's and Who's Who Burgers--and Crosland each put up 50 percent of the cost of launching Lobster Ranch. Likewise, the costs of closing the restaurant, should it fail, were to be shared equally. The suit also states that Romano and Crosland reached an agreement whereby Crosland would keep his nose out of daily operations and cede complete control to Romano, an agreement that Crosland conspicuously violated, according to the suit. "Defendant repeatedly showed up at the restaurant, unannounced and frequently in front of other persons and patrons of the restaurant, disrupting operations, issuing orders to employees and management, and generally offending virtually everyone present. Defendant continued to harass the employees and management team of Lobster Ranch despite repeated requests from Romano that he refrain from this conduct, and despite defendant's repeated promises that he would stop. Defendant's conduct severely inhibited the ability to run the restaurant as planned and contributed to its ultimate demise." The suit goes on to charge that Crosland failed to shoulder his end of the requiem festivities after the restaurant tumbled into the lobster boil. Bibs aren't enough. These ranchers need raincoats and a fire hose.


Scott Melton, founder of the defunct Sushi Nights in Deep Ellum and one of the driving forces behind Deep Sushi before he was a casualty of a partnership rift, has ripped a page from Kim Il Jong's playbook and gone nuclear. Melton is general manager of Atomic Sushi Grill, a Japanese-Chinese hybrid that bubbled up from the defunct Johnny Rockets in the West End. Atomic symbols indicate spiciness on the menu. Chinese fare is labeled "China syndrome." Restrooms are indicated with fallout shelter signage, a disturbingly accurate bit of labeling when you think about it.

 
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