The Lion opened five and a half years ago with a tangle of fake ivy, an ultra-exclusive dining perch for the rich and famous, and glass domes full of smoke and pork chops. David Zinczenko and Dan Abrams were investors. It was an absurd restaurant from the get-go, and in those early days, it was also obnoxiously hot and impossible to get into. Chef/co-owner John DeLucie and partner Sean Largotta quickly opened a duo of restaurants in the same fashion, Bill's and Crown, as well as a sports bar, The Windsor.
Delucie and Largotta are now in the middle of a messy split. The Windsor is long gone, Crown folded earlier this year, Bill's was facing eviction a few months ago, and now the Times reports that The Lion will close after service on New Year's Eve. The restaurant has been sold to Apicii Group, a company that manages the Cipriani catering halls, as well as the forthcoming Beekman Hotel. No word on what the group plans to do with the space.
Less than a year ago, Largotta and DeLucie settled a class action wage lawsuit filed by employees of The Lion for $575,000. Back in February, DeLucie also banned Largotta from The Lion after he allegedly used $100,000 taken from the restaurant to finance a trip to Italy and the rental of a Land Rover. Reflecting on the collapse of his restaurant group, DeLucie recently told the Post: "We were probably lacking a little bit in infrastructure." The chef is currently planning a new restaurant in the Renwick Hotel without his Crown Group associates called Bedford & Co. It's slated to open early net year.