Looks like Roberta’s will keep running solo. Financier Michael Tisch — of the famed multi-billion-dollar family that owns the New York Giants — is no longer working to take over the pizzeria.
Last year, the restaurant known for putting Bushwick on the map as a hip food destination was very close to finalizing a deal with Tisch, going as far as applying to change the ownership listed on the restaurant’s liquor license.
But the takeover never happened. Sources with knowledge of the deal now say that Tisch isn’t actively involved with Roberta’s anymore, confirming rumors that have been swirling for months. An attorney for co-founder Chris Parachini, who was embroiled in a contentious ownership lawsuit with co-founders Carlo Mirarchi and Brandon Hoy, also says that the deal never closed. Tisch declined to comment and Mirarchi did not respond to requests for comment.
When the buyout was close to being final last spring, Mirarchi told Eater that the cash influx would lead to an expansion — with plans for a bigger wholesale bakery business and potential new restaurants like a Mirarchi-led steakhouse. It also meant management would change, and Hoy — once a frequent public face and personality for the restaurant — would be out. Many assumed that Tisch would end the ownership lawsuit by buying out Parachini as well.
Instead, Parachini and Co. settled that lawsuit last week after several years in court, according to court filings. That doesn’t mean the restaurant’s legal troubles are over, though. Shortly after, Noah Gershman, who says he is an original investor, filed an injunction aimed to prevent Parachini and others from selling theirs shares to Mirarchi because it violates the original shareholders agreement. His suit says that Parachini gave up his approximately 30 percent stake in the company for just over $350,000 — valuing the restaurant at $1.2 million. (Gershman is also suing Hoy and Mirarchi for nearly $90,000 in unpaid dividends, breach of fiduciary duty, and enriching themselves at the expense of the company.)
Still, it’s unlikely that’s all the cash that Parachini received. It seems unrealistic considering he declined a $2 million settlement back in 2014 for being too low. His attorney Derek Wolman declined to discuss the terms of the settlement, but he also cautioned that the numbers from the Gershman lawsuit did not reflect the value of the settlement.
For now, it’s not yet clear what the future of Roberta’s will look like. When Tisch was in talks to buy the restaurant, word from staff was that the company was suffering from major cashflow problems partly stemming from legal troubles.
Besides the ongoing legal troubles with the ownership suit, Mirarchi and Hoy settled a labor lawsuit in December for close to $320,000 (see sidebar).
With reporting by Ryan Sutton