And here, finally, are the details of the backstory: Steve Lewis tells us that lease holder Joe Vicari brought him on to design a restaurant-lounge at 98 Kenmare (no contract was ever signed, since Lewis doesn’t work with them). According to Lewis, he and Todd English were looking for a space at the time, so he introduced him to Vicari. “There were supposed to be negotiations,” Lewis told us, “but as it went on, all of the sudden they cut me out. I didn’t get cut nice. No one ever told me I was cut out.” Lewis believes the problem was that he asked for a finder's fee on top of his standard fee.
Todd English, through a rep, tells us, “No one was cut out of any deals because there was no deal to cut anyone out of.” His rep adds, “Todd is totally out of this deal, and he has been for a long time. According to him, he was never actually in it. It was all conversation and no different than the other conversations he has on a daily basis about possible upcoming projects.”
Our source reports that, after Lewis’s departure, Vicari and English had trouble reaching an agreement and wavered between names (Capo or 98 Nolita’s) and cuisines (French or Italian tapas). The plan seems to have been for something upscale and chic, à la Beso, English’s L.A. restaurant with Eva Longoria. The money allocated to the project evaporated before an operating agreement could be finalized, says the source, and so much back rent was owed that the space was almost repossessed before Sfoglia swooped in to take over the lease. Of course, all of this backstory will be irrelevant if Sfoglia, a Platt favorite, opens its doors (we haven’t yet been able to reach Sfoglia for confirmation). Who knew a pasta joint coming to Little Italy could be so exciting?