Two business partners in Lakeview's shuttered Cue Club are suing a third partner, claiming he pilfered $2 million from the bar. Brian Galati and Chireal Jordan allege Mark Kwiatkowski took the money and also used their concepts from Headquarters Beercade when he opened Replay Beer & Bourbon without Galati and Jordan. Headquarters Lakeview sits on Cue Club's former space.
On Thursday, Cook County Circuit Court Judge David Atkins partially granted a temporary restraining order the plaintiffs requested. He wrote Galati and Jordan have "demonstrated a clearly ascertainable right in need of protection," as they allege Kwiatkowski has illegally withdrawn funds and distributed that money illegally to himself and his wife. The plaintiffs allege Kwiatkowski hid information and money, and that they only found out about Replay only after reading about the arcade bar in a news story. Headquarters and Replay both serve craft beer and allow guests to play vintage arcade video games.
The plaintiffs want the courts to remove Kwiatkowski from heading their joint ventures and money for damages. While the order does not allow that, it does require Kwiatkowski to open up financial records, something the plaintiffs said he also hid. Galati will also become a signatory on the bank accounts that were controlled by Kwiatkowski. The case is ongoing, with expedited written and oral discovery scheduled to start by Tuesday.
An audit revealed the missing funds, the plaintiffs claim. The lack of communication supposedly was so deep the Galati and Jordan alleged they hadn't seen Kwiatkowski since they made the discovery. Headquarters Lakeview opened in 2012 and later expanded. Their River North sibling opened last year. Replay opened in 2013 in Boystown, and expanded in September to Andersonville.
The defendant was also involved with King's County Tap and Etno's. Cook County Record first reported the lawsuit. The next scheduled court date is Jan. 5 for a status hearing. Read the initial complaint filed in October, and the restraining order granted by the judge, below.
This story will be updated if there's any word from Replay or Kwiatkowski.
UPDATE: Here's a comment from Mark Liberson, president of LKH Management, Replay's parent company: "Mark Kwiatkowski has no direct management or authority over the operation of our properties, including Replay, all of which are managed by LKH Management. I have a controlling interest in both Replay locations, which were inspired by similar bar concepts that exist across the country."
UPDATE: Kwiatkowski emailed with his own reply: "Unfortunately, business disputes are all too common as businesses fluctuate between profitability and struggling to remain solvent. I am confident that the courts, our attorneys and our accountants will verify that this suit is without merit. We will vigorously defend our position and we are considering a counter suit to once and for all resolve this unfortunate 'business divorce.'"