Jacob Bickelhaupt, who in May opened Stone Flower in Bucktown, appeared in court last week for a status hearing related to his lawsuit against his ex-wife, Alexa Welsh. Bickelhaupt, an acclaimed chef for his work at 42 Grams, was convicted of battery in 2017 after he attacked Welsh causing head injuries that sent her to the hospital. Five months after opening the new restaurant, Bickelhaupt filed a lawsuit against Welsh and claimed she cost the restaurant business by sullying his name with social media posts and personal text messages that referenced the June 2017 attack.
Welsh hasn’t received official notification that her ex-husband is suing her for defamation, according to Cook County records. A summons sent out was returned. Welsh had moved to California where she worked at a taqueria near a beach. Welsh confirmed to Eater that she hasn’t been served or contacted by the court. Bickelhaupt’s lawsuit identified Welsh as a resident of Bexar County, which contains San Antonio, Texas. Since the first summons wasn’t successful, the court will send another.
The lawsuit, filed in October, asks the court for $250,000 in damages. Bickelhaupt appeared in court December 12 for a status hearing. His lawsuit claims Welsh broke a non-disparagement agreement between the two by posting and responding to messages about domestic violence on social media. The lawsuit also included personal text messages allegedly sent by Welsh to Bickelhaupt. In one message, Welsh allegedly claimed she is in possession of a video, and if she released the footage “shit will go sideways” for Bickelhaupt.
Welsh managed the front of house at 42 Grams, a pricey fine-dining restaurant in Uptown. Bickelhaupt, a veteran Chicago chef, handled the culinary duties. The restaurant earned a Michelin star soon after it opened in 2014. Bickelhaupt pled guilty to the 2017 attack which forced 42 Grams’s closure. Prior to the attack, the two were divorced, but continued to work together at 42 Grams.
Bickelhaupt opened Stone Flower in May with the help of a single investor, suburban businessman Harpal Singh. Singh is a Jimmy John’s franchisee, running multiple locations around the Chicago area. Bickelhaupt and his attorney, James DiTommaso, declined comment as they did in October when the lawsuit was filed. The next court date, another status call, is scheduled for February 20.