It’s that time of the year: to count our blessings, reflect on the year past, and categorize events into Awesome Things That Happened and Terrible Things That Happened, WTF. For us at Blogging LA, that latter organizational activity is what we’re calling our Naughty and Nice List series. From today to the end of the week, we’ll be highlighting people, organizations, and events that made us facepalm and others that made us smile. First up on our Naughty List: Julie Rico and Sid Carter.
The Must Bar was one of the most dearly loved bars downtown. An extensive beer and wine selection and board games – what else could you want from a neighborhood bar? Well, if you’re Julie Rico and Sid Carter – who were the leaseholders of The Must’s space – you do want more: you want The Must’s actual space back.
And so they took it back. Literally. I recounted the events as they unfolded here; to summarize: security cameras captured a moving van rolling up in front of The Must Bar at 2:45am on July 3rd. A few bad men emptied the entire bar of its contents, from its wine (they used bolt cutters to get the wine locked behind the wine cages) to its board games. An employee of The Must showed up for work later that morning, found that his key was no longer able to unlock the door, and, in the confusion, thought they had been robbed. Bar owners Coly Haan and Rachel Thomas reported it first as a robbery. After a very confusing few hours, the veil was torn down, and Rico and Carter were fingered as the culprits. It was, then, not so much a robbery as it was a very forced eviction.
The situation turned from one mess to another. Rico claimed that notice was mailed to Haan and Thomas by letter dated July 1, and thus The Must should have been aware of her plans. Note, however, that she didn’t say the notice actually was received. Indeed, no one from The Must received the notice. In fact, The Must submitted their July rent check, and Rico cashed it.
That things ended this way perhaps shouldn’t have been a total surprise: the two were locked in arbitration over other issues relating to what appears to have been a messy contract between the two. But why the post-midnight U-Haul? Oh right – Rico and Carter sold their leasehold to someone they said was named David Holtzman and presumably needed to get the keys to the new owner ASAP. Haan and Thomas’s bar was sold from right under their noses, and the first they heard of the change in ownership was on July 3rd.
As mentioned, David Holtzman was the name given as the new owner, but the name on the currently pending alcohol permit for The Must’s location is David McGrath. David Holtzman/McGrath plans to open “JP Lounge” in The Must’s space, but, given that the lounge’s ABC permit is on hold, it’s unclear exactly when it will open. Not that too many people are waiting eagerly for its grand opening: between the people who hate Rico and the people who just hate what happened to The Must, the new business already must contend with neighbors who resent its very existence. This leads one to wonder how goodwill figured into the sale of the lease, because the sellers and the buyer could not have expected a whole lot of it to be left once everything went down.
Post-eviction, The Must was forced to close. The owners have added the eviction to the list of issues they’re battling with Rico and Carter in arbitration. They formally sued McGrath in the LA Superior Court for, among other things, conversion (which is akin to borrowing something without asking first), outright theft, trespass, and conspiracy. They’re asking the court to block McGrath from opening a competing wine bar in their former space, which probably explains the hold on McGrath’s alcohol permit application. In happier news, they will re-open soon-ish in a space at the Hellman building. Hopefully, they’ll have an airtight lease with a landlord who is somewhat reasonable and will avoid this type of mess in the future.
As for Rico and Carter – well, let’s just I have represented tenants against slumlords who have been better able to execute an eviction. Future reference, landlords: as a preliminary matter, if you’re going to evict someone in, say, July, don’t cash their rent check for July. Even assuming they were within their legal rights to do what they did, Rico and Carter’s forced eviction of The Must still reek of mean spirit and just plain nastiness. They deserve the lumps of coal in their stocking, and their spots on our Naughty List. Let’s play nice next year, hmm?
“Stocking Stuffers” photo taken by Seamusiv and used under a Creative Commons license.