A text-messaged breakup! A keyed car! Trash-talking! Such sordid details aren’t the shrapnel from a romance shot to hell, but rather the accusations bandied about in the messy split between chef John Mims and attorney/racehorse owner Howard Taylor, former partners in Carmine’s on the Main Line and Center City’s Les Bons Temps.
The bottom fell out in August, when, Taylor says, “I realized a lot of money was missing.” In court documents, Taylor alleged that Mims engaged in “misappropriation of funds” and “theft.” “That’s just not true,” rebuts Mims, who cites “accounting errors” on Taylor’s part. Either way, Taylor told Mims not to come back — by text message. “He would
not talk in person,” says Mims, a brawny guy who lifts weights when not in the kitchen. “He is a maniac!” counters Taylor. “People are afraid of him.”
Relations weren’t always strained between the pair, who formed their doomed pact in 2006. As recently as mid-2008, Taylor says, he felt kindly enough to let Mims use his convertible daily. And then, when things turned sour, “He wouldn’t return it,” says Taylor. The cops got involved, and Mims returned the car (“Voluntarily,” he notes), though Taylor claims it had been “keyed and trashed.” “Not by me,” swears Mims.
Last summer, Mims signed on at the Freehouse in Wayne, and for a while, the two seemed to be out of each other’s hair. But then the Freehouse changed its name to “Mims Food & Drink,” and Taylor, who still has a three-year, 10-mile non-compete with Mims’s signature on it, essentially preventing Mims from cooking anywhere in Philadelphia or on the Main Line until 2011 (a surprisingly restrictive document that Mims admits he was foolish to sign), scurried off to court in January and won an injunction — thereby making Mims, at least for the time being, a kitchenless (and jobless) chef. Mims’s Delaware County attorney, Anthony Pinnie, says an appeal is in the works, and adds, “These restaurant divorces are even worse than domestic ones.”