Michael Tisch, member of the eponymous billionaire family, told a public community board that when his company Chorus Hospitality takes over Roberta's, the restaurant's ownership and management will be completely overhauled — with only chef and co-owner Carlo Mirarchi remaining, members of the board tell Eater. Brandon Hoy, a co-founder and co-owner, will be leaving when the deal closes, a restaurant spokesman confirms.
As Eater previously reported, Tisch, along with Meatpacking District nightlife veteran Ben Grieff, has a deal in the works to invest in Bushwick pizzeria Roberta's through their new company Chorus Hospitality. The impending change pushed at least 20 staffers to resign, with several former members of front-of-house management saying that they no longer trusted the restaurant to maintain its creative ethos. In response to their concerns, Mirarchi previously said that Tisch would not be making significant changes to management and that it was a "strictly financial" relationship — and that Hoy, a frequent public face and personality for the restaurant, would stay put.
But Tisch struck a different tone at Brooklyn Community Board 1 last Tuesday, where he asked to transfer Roberta's liquor license from the existing LLC to a new corporate entity that will be formed by Chorus Hospitality, according to a public agenda and an application to the board. Though Tisch assured the board’s liquor license review committee that the restaurant itself would remain the same — and the application filed to the board showed that Chorus planned to make no operational changes — Bogan Bachorowski, chair of the committee, says that Tisch also described the situation as a total change in ownership, with only the chef remaining from previous management. According to another committee member, Rob Solano, Tisch left the impression that it was a "takeover." "They’re using the Roberta’s brand," Solano says. "But behind, it’s all new people."
State law dictates that businesses must seek the State Liquor Authority's approval for corporate changes if 80 percent or more of the company's officers, ownership, or interest is changing. A spokesman for Roberta's, who was reached via Chorus Hospitality's website, would not confirm Tisch's ownership level, and said that the transfer can happen from one corporate entity to another regardless of ownership levels.
Mirarchi will maintain his current ownership level, the spokesman added. According to court records, Mirarchi owns about 12.5 percent of Roberta's and about 33 percent of Severed Heads LLC, which manages Blanca. With Hoy leaving the company once the deal closes, Mirarchi will be the only prominent co-founder who maintains an ownership stake in the restaurant. Hoy and Mirarchi are currently in the midst of a contentious ownership lawsuit with third co-owner and founder, Chris Parachini.
Bachorowski says that the board raised some questions with Tisch to make sure that the new owners would be responsible. "It's always a question mark about such a big establishment and restaurant," he says. But committee members ultimately decided to recommend approval for the transfer, a decision that needs to be voted on at a full community board meeting. The board's vote is advisory to the SLA, which makes the final call.