There’s turmoil at Lincoln Park’s highly-acclaimed The Blanchard, as the majority silent owner is suing the French restaurant’s executive chef/partner Jason Paskewitz, alleging he misappropriated nearly $550,000 of the restaurant’s money. Crain’s reported that the lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in Cook County Court, also claims the restaurant owes more than $80,000 in state and federal taxes.
Majority owner Richard Duffy seeks an injunction which would bar Paskewitz from having access to the restaurant’s financials, transferring that power over to Duffy. The lawsuit details Paskewitz’s alleged financial activity, including 578 charges at Monsignor Murphy's, a Lakeview bar on Broadway Street. There are also details of checks Paskewitz wrote to his wife, his ex-wife and his babysitter totaling $161,972. A hearing today for an emergency hearing took place, and the judge subsequently scheduled an Oct. 6 court date.
"We regret that this one-sided discussion is happening so prematurely," Paskewitz said in a statement, "but I am unable to say anything more due to the sensitivity of the allegations."
The Blanchard celebrated its one-year anniversary in June. The French restaurant earned national recognition as a 2016 James Beard Foundation award semifinalist for best new restaurant. Earlier this year, it won the corresponding Jean Banchet Award, which recognizes Chicago restaurants. Previously, Paskewitz cooked at Gemini Bistro, which is also in Lincoln Park.
The suit includes eight counts, Crain’s reported. Duffy wants the money to be paid back and money for other damages. Paskewitz’s attorney told Crain’s that they’re prepared to defend their client "vigorously."
Duffy's attorney is Howard Davis, the co-founder of KDK Restaurants. That's the group that owned West Loop spots including Marche and Red Light, as well as Giocco and Opera in South Loop.
"Mr. Duffy does not want to displace Jason Paskewitz as the chef, he only seeks to replace him as the controller and person responsible for managing the financials and the business," Davis said.
Davis also noted that The Blanchard remains open, and that the restaurant remains popular due to the quality of food for which Paskewitz is largely responsible.