David Burke is hoping to regain control of some of the restaurants he left years ago, when he resigned over a disagreement with Watershed Ventures, which had taken over their management. "Things are looking pretty good and we are excited about the prospect of getting back into the restaurants,'' said Burke of taking back some of places, a few of which, like David Burke in Bloomingdales and David Burke Kitchen in Soho, still bear his name. Burke and his partner Jimmy Haber of E2 Hospitality, have already re-possessed the former Fishtail space, which closed in January, and will reopen as Tavern 62 by David Burke this fall.
Watershed has continued to operate under the name David Burke Group, but announced on July 18th, that it changed its name to Craveable Hospitality Group. Burke says of the company, "They have already closed three restaurants, Fishtail, Townhouse and Fromagerie,and are in bankruptcy in Aspen. A lot of their leases are up soon, and the license to use my name is coming due, so either they will give them up or renew without my name.''
Patrick McGragh, an investor in Aspen Kitchen, says he is involved with legal action. "Aspen Kitchen, which is operating under the David Burke Kitchen brand, has been placed under bankruptcy protection, and we are in litigation to regain ownership and control,'' he says.
A spokesperson for Craveable confirmed that there is ongoing litigation with Burke, but refuted his other claims. "The allegations made by Mr. Burke regarding our current leases are absolutely false,'' said a spokesperson. "We do not have any contracts coming due in the near future. We at Craveable Hospitality Group have the full rights to our properties and are operating under our brand’s new mission of inspiring awe and celebrating all of our team’s unique, exceptional talent. We have no plans to give up control of any of our restaurants and look forward to growing our business with two new restaurants this year as well as increased quick service offerings at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.''
Burke, who said he and Haber are planning several other projects together, added: "I'm hopeful that things will work out the best for my brand and my operation.''