When Argent, the new restaurant in the Dana Hotel (replacing Aja) opened last spring, it was the first venture of a restaurant development company called COAL, which stood for “Chicago, Original, Authentic, Legitimate.” The restaurant had some bumpy times when Rodelio Aglibot (Sunda), who consulted on the concept with COAL under a contract with them, clashed with Jackie Shen, briefly the on-site chef, but the kitchen side seemed to be calmed with the arrival of Nathan Huntington from L2O. But now it’s the management team that’s having agitas; one COAL investor, Sean Mulroney, who also owns Debonair Social Club and Double Door, is being sued by another, Toni Motamen, who owns Raw Bar and was brought in to run Argent.
Motamen claims he was frozen out of Argent and its profits; Mulroney tells an entirely different story in which Motamen gave up on managing Argent after six weeks. The most interesting thing here is that Argent, which got very mixed reviews in its initial incarnation, not to mention troubled publicity, nevertheless apparently has… profits, or at least the prospect of same to make it worth fighting over. How is it under current chef Huntington? We’ve never heard a word. [Crain’s]