Last week the Daily News brought word that Richie Akiva and Scott Sartiano are being sued for $120 million by developer Emilio Barletta, who claims he’s the rightful lease holder of the space that houses the Butter boys’ club 1 OAK. What the News doesn’t mention, but our inside sources do, is that Barletta, owner of Zanzibar, was planning to partner in the space with PM owners Kyky and Unik, last seen plotting a now-abandoned Italian bistro in the Sascha space.
Court documents we’ve obtained indicate that Barletta signed a $800,000 lease agreement on January 25, 2006. But James Famularo, the broker who connected Akiva and Sartiano with the space, tells us, “Scott and Richie had put a deposit down a year prior to Emilio ever seeing the space. They were waiting for the previous lease holder [John Yonkus, owner of Red Rock West, also named in the suit along with Southern Hospitality partner Eytan Sugarman] to furnish them with proper paperwork. We finally got all the paperwork Emilio never even met the landlord.” Neither Barletta’s broker nor attorney would comment, but 1 OAK’s lawyer, Ken Sussmane, had plenty to say in an official statement.
Plaintiff [Barletta] is a front man for jealous competitors who apparently did not have the financing necessary to obtain the lease for the premises. It is an entirely frivolous case based on fraudulent documents with pleadings riddled with errors and false statements. Plaintiff is so out of tune with the industry that he thinks that 1 OAK (at 453 West 17th Street) is located in the meat packing [sic] district.
Plaintiff has resorted to defamation of defendants after the Court rejected his frivolous request for a temporary restraining order. With respect to the ludicrous demand for damages, it appears that Plaintiff merely decided to arbitrarily add zeros to his demand in an obvious attempt to generate negative publicity about 1 OAK to extort a settlement.
Our clients will be suing plaintiff and his partners next week for defamation and fraud.
How will this affect the community board’s vote on 1 OAK’s liquor-license-alteration application on December 5? One thing’s for sure: Given the legal fees (and the fact that, according to an unbiased source, the lounge with full kitchen looks “beautiful”), these guys are going to be charging a pretty penny to host your office Christmas party.