Hash Over

Got beef?

Lena Rumore, ex-wife of Dallas steakhouse mogul Dale Wamstad (III Forks, Del Frisco's), will get a shot at the skillful restaurateur's beefy wallet. On May 26, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied Wamstad's attempt to derail his ex-wife's damage suit seeking a portion of the $22.7 million doled out when Lone Star Steak & Saloon purchased Del Frisco's in late 1995. Rumore filed suit following the sale, claiming she was duped out of her share of the proceeds generated by the restaurant they founded and then developed in New Orleans in the early 1980s. She alleges Wamstad created a "web of lies" to conceal the true ownership and value of Del Frisco's assets following their 1987 divorce. Wamstad countered that Rumore's claims were groundless because she signed a settlement agreement in 1992 that paid her $45,000. A lower court agreed with Wamstad, but Rumore won on appeal. So Wamstad took the beef to the state's highest court. "When the ink was dry on the partition agreement, [Wamstad] began to unravel the web for his own purposes, so that he could reap all of the benefits from selling the very business Ms. Rumore and the community capital had helped to create," say court documents filed on behalf of Rumore. Rumore contends Del Frisco's sale to publicly traded Lone Star unleashed the public filing of records with the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing the true value and ownership structure of the Del Frisco's steak empire. The case is expected to go to trial this summer.

Got Fish?

Beef isn't the only entrée sparking legal brawls. Former Fish chef Chris Svalesen countersued his ex-Fish Partner Steven Upright last month in the latest installment of their ongoing ownership battle in the successful downtown seafood restaurant. A few months after Svalesen resigned from the restaurant in June 1999, Upright slapped him with a lawsuit demanding the return of his shares in the restaurant's parent company, Pescado Inc., because he failed to purchase them with cash. According to the suit, Upright and Svalesen entered into an agreement in June 1996 whereby Upright would toss in $37,000 in exchange for 768 shares of Pescado stock, while Svalesen would contribute $11,000 in exchange for 230 shares. Svalesen claims in court records that he did honor his agreement and was properly issued the shares in lieu of cash through "...my previously rendered services which were equal to or in excess of the monetary value assigned to the shares." The case is expected to go to trial in January.

Mark Stuertz

E-mail Dish at [email protected].

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz