Battle Royale at the Piazza: Bart Blatstein Locks Shola Olunloyo Out Of Speck

We’ve been telling you for what seems like years about Speck, Shola Olunloyo’s long-delayed eatery that was to bring sophisticated eating to Bart Blatstein’s Piazza, more known for P.Y.T.’s beloved burgers, booze-spiked milkshakes, and inflatable pools stocked with girls in bikinis than the level of culinary prowess that the Studiokitchen genius would bring to the table. But now, it seems that the Blatstein-Olunloyo partnership is no more, with the landlord locking the chef out of the restaurant, which was – in theory – finally set to open. According to a trusted source, the lockout occurred last week. The source – who personally knows both men well enough to know firsthand that Olunloyo is bristly (and that’s putting it nicely) and that Blatstein does not put up with any B.S. – isn’t privy to the exact nature of the dispute, but observes: “Their relationship has gone south now that they have this beautiful $1 million restaurant that Shola has been locked out of… which kinda sucks.”

Neither Blatstein nor Olunloyo could immediately be reached for comment.

UPDATE:

Since posting this earlier this afternoon, the lines are being drawn pretty clearly in the sand. I heard from someone in Olunloyo’s camp, who said that Blatstein wanted the chef to sign an agreement entitling the developer to a part of any books, restaurants, or other future projects that he might pursue. That person added that Olunloyo said last Friday that the project is officially over, and that he paid employees out of his own pocket for lost wages. Oh, and they also mentioned, “Bart Blatstein is an asshole. He held the restaurant completely hostage.”

Nobody at Blatstein HQ wants to speak for attribution. But one person close to the deal – or, rather, non-deal – confirms that there was an agreement similar to this that Olunloyo refused to sign. Their explanation: “If Shola decided he wanted to move to California two months from now, what recourse would there be? Shola has no assets.” That source promised that Speck would open with another chef (maybe Jose Garces?!), and pointed out that Bart has “opened ten restaurants without any drama. How many has Shola opened successfully? Zero, and that’s with drama.” Oh, and they also mentioned, “Some people get all wrapped up in Shola and drink his Kool-Aid like he’s Jim Jones. I think he’s nuts.”

See you in court, fellas.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • barryg

    Didn’t see this one coming…

  • Anonymous

    Blatstein is a greedy asshat. That’s the real reason.

  • http://www.thriftyrittenhouse.blogspot.com Aubre

    This is SO FANTASTIC!!! I hope this overhyped, pretentious place never opens.

  • pete

    thats right aubre!!! i’ll see you at applebees!

  • Anon

    Aubre,
    You’ll never know what you were missing anyways. Enjoy Applebees with Pete.

  • Bob

    Restaurants open in the city every day, but this guy whines and cries about how hard it has been for him. Perhaps a career as a private chef and food photographer is more fitting for him.

  • Food Phan

    Though I’m sure the issues between the two are legitimate, this sure sounds like a c@&% measuring contest between two stubborn people. I smell litigation; yay lawyers, they always win.

  • http://www.thriftyrittenhouse.blogspot.com Aubre

    Thanks, Anon. Pete and I will probably get married over a plate of loaded potato skins while toasting to the demise of Shola.

  • Ken

    Good way to build some drama and mistique before an opening. Stay tuned for next week’s episode of Real Chef’s Philadelphia when, against all odds, Blatstein and Olunloyo kiss and make up to the applause of adoring foodies.

  • Pedro Dias

    @Aubre: “schadenfreude”. Look it up.

    Look, even if you have no intention to ever going, why wish it harm? Some of us are really looking forward to this.

    As for the lockout, here’s hoping it’s just posturing. Given the money already invested, seems most likely. Even if Blatstein could get another tenant into the space, it’s hard to imagine it would be the destination a restaurant at that location pretty much needs to be to be successful.

  • Anonymous

    The statement in this “article” about Blatstein not putting up with any B.S. couldn’t be anymore of a joke. In fact it’s completely the opposite, putting up with Blatstein is nothing but mile high B.S. Blatstein’s ego won’t allow him to sit back and just let business owners run their own businesses. He needs to be able to go and tell his mainline friends about all these great businesses and restaurants that HE is a key part of, when reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • :( no libs

    Just out of curiosity why does it take a year to open a one million dollar restaurant?

  • Anonymous

    Bob, I am pretty sure there was no crying involved. But more explaining to the public the delayed opening. Considering Speck was supposed to open last summer, I think that warrants his post about all the hurdles along the way.

  • Bob

    Anonymous, you’re totally Shola, right?

  • Max

    # Anonymous Says:
    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Blatstein is a greedy asshat. That’s the real reason.

    Max says:
    Yeah, Blatstein is so greedy he bankrolls every friggin’ restaurant and boutique within 10 blocks of the piazza

  • Michael G

    Bart retains ownership of the liquor licenses for all the places in the Piazza so he can control them. If you do a Google search on him you will find that he’s been sued by contractors, developers and architects for not fully paying his bills. He continuously lies to the NLNA boards about his projects. Sounds like a great guy to do business with.

  • Dr. Heckles

    Goodness gracious. I forget about this blog for a few months (easier done than said) and when I come back, there’s another heckler amongst us!

    I’m with Aubre on this one.

  • Rebecca

    Everyone loses in this situation so that’s a shame. Also third failed eatery in Piazza and this one never even saw an open? And maybe he’s just getting advice from Garces on what to do with it if all of this is true.

  • Hype Monger

    What exactly has Olunloyo done for this city’s culinary scene? Think about it real hard…I get it, this cat can cook for 20 people. I wish this dude would just pick up and bounce. Then again we don’t really hear much about him anyway until someone is “fucking him”. Just go away bro.

  • anonymous

    This entire post and battle so very much needs a popcorn.gif

  • bingo bob

    as someone who has followed the blatstein project at this area for ten plus years and seen how it’s a far cry from what it was intended to be, this does not shock me. what are their? like 2 stores left in the Piazza? everything they try gets shut down, or pushed out… yes the few that remain are holding on, but seriously what is left at this place…it’s a shame…I wanted it to succeed. PYT should a been shut down long ago, because of letting underage workers drink.

  • Anonymous

    Hype Monger,
    What have you done for the city’s culinary scene? Hi Hater.

  • rascal b. schuylkillian

    I thought a “bart blatstein” was the german equivalent of a dirty sanchez?

    I feel bad for the peops who were excited Shola’s food would be more accessible. His blog and food ideas are fairly amazing, but I personally couldn’t buy in to the hype. It just seemed like he felt he was doing the masses a favor by opening a restaurant.

    Should be interesting drama to follow…

  • Lord Chezza

    1. Shola ia probably a great chef. Maybe even a genius in the kitchen.
    2. Bart Blatstein is probably a huge d*ck.

    3. But could someone tell me the last time Speck paid him any rent? If they haven’t paid rent in a long time, I think BB is well within his rights to ask for some collateral. And failing that, he’s well within his rights to evict the tenant. It’s contracts 101. Olunloyo doesn’t deserve a free ride based upon the premise of how could his restaurant “could” be. So to those who think that this is a case of extortion, consider the fact that BB may by this point be owed quite a bit.

    Could we get some more reporting on this? If Blatstein is in fact bankrolling this project, he’s entitled to ask for something if they’ve missed an agreed upon opening date and can’t ever offer him the glimmer of ever earning a return on his investment.

  • john

    Bart has “opened ten restaurants without any drama. How many has Shola opened successfully? Zero, and that’s with drama.”

    Oh really? Where should I begin….

    1. Swift half – rent hike = out
    2. Apollinaire – he kicked out the original owners, replaced with his own people
    3. one shot coffee – rent hike = out
    4. Deuce – rent hike = out (replaced by el camino)
    5. who could this be? http://philadelphia.craigslist.org
    /off/2264154963.html
    6. speck – disagreement = out

    Plenty of “drama” only its not reported, so you dont know.

    Not to mention all of the gallery/boutique owners that have been kicked out due to rent hikes as well. That, and lack of foot traffic means death for retail.

  • sockii

    Personally I went to a few of Shola’s StudioKitchen dinners. They were each mindblowingly good and some of the best meals I’ve ever enjoyed. I’ve long had some doubts about how it could translate to a restaurant experience, though. I think it’s sad how many people seem to be reveling in schadenfreude over this whole situation, however. As if this city needs yet another over-hyped, over-priced Jose Garces small plates joint instead at this point. **yawn**

  • cleevus

    vindication at last. all of you dorks who keep talking about studio kitchen this and Sholas talent that…HE COOKED FOR A FUCKING 10 TOP ONCE IN A WHILE!! ITS A FUCKING HOBBY FOR HIM, NOT A CAREER AND CERTAINLY NOT A FUCKING RESTAURANT!! that felt great.

  • foodie77077

    I like Shola and his food. His flavor combinations are interplanetary. I wish him the best of luck with this entire situation. Graces of course will take the space because it is a turnkey property and he has more money then he knows what to do with.

  • Libertine

    Shola is an extraordinary, sizzlingly HOT chef and a pretty decent guy. Bart on the other hand is a greedy pig and a repulsive excuse for a human being. I know them both and I know whom I would choose to get in bed with, trust to cook my food, and/or engage in dramatic irony . . .

  • marco

    No chance anyone who is someone will come to the Piazza b/c they would never allow Fart Blatstein to control them. Period.

  • Rick Flair

    Rent hikes and shuttering unsuccessful concepts is not “drama”. I know as well as the next guy that Bart is an absolute class-A asshole, but actions like closing Deuce and bringing is El Camino have turned out nicely. There was no one in Appolinaire, so you try something new. If One Shot is successful enough to not be held captive to rent hikes, then god bless them. As a neighbor I’m overjoyed that they found a bigger, non-Blatstein property just around the corner. I hope Bart can incubate a few more One Shot’s and drown the Deuce’s in the bathtub.

  • CALLLLLEDDDDD ITTTT!!!!

    i called this months ago!! im with hyper monger, and aubre !!!anyone can take 10 hours to prepare a perfect looking dish and take a picture of it..nothing of his is original all you have to do is look at the latest menu from one of the top 10 restaurants in the world and OH LOOK!!!! a exact replica of it on studio kitchen blog claiming to be something “hes been working on for months…”

  • DANNY

    Let’s be clear. Shola does not have a dime, and do you think a succesful developer like Bart would depend on shoals future earnings? Shola does not even have a 401k plan, or a checking account.As stated in the article the developer spent $1 million to build the place out, and Shola did not contribute $1, because he does not have it. If Shola is in fact so succesful, how come he has never had a resturant and is only good for slaving at bar mitzvahs. I doubt Blatstein would depend on him for anything. You can say what you want about him, but Blatstein is the reason that many serious resturants are in buis, like El Camino and Bar Fernand (The owner of these two places started out doing build out for Steven Starr) No issue between the two as far as we know. What about PYT, I love it there and No issue reported between those two. Lets talk about The Darlings Diner, Blatstein also built those places out, and No issue with those owners. Someone in an earlier post mentioned Deuce as one of the places closing. Lets be honest, Deuce sucked and so did the service.

    Shola is not a chef, he is a cook. Name one succesful venture that he is tied too. He is not Garces and will never be. What I heard is Shola did not bring what he was suppose to bring to the table. If Blatstein built the entire thing out, and there was a partnership, what “part” did Shola bring? I wish Shola would get a job so I can stop paying for the government assitance he recieves. Good for Team Blatstein for not being Sholas stimulus plan!

    Garces has a strong backing and he is very savey. Obviously, it would be the idea partnership, because Garces brings real chef abilities, and his own money to the table.

    Shola , I will call you when im ready for a private party again in my condo. No offense but thats all you are good for. Tell the world how many other development deals you walked out of because you are not smart.

    Rumor has it Shola wanted to be able to walk away from the resturant at any point, and who would allow that after they have invested $1 million.

    • John

      So, lots of here-say going on, huh? Were you privy to the partnership agreement? Do you know that Shola didn’t put in any $? How do you know about his checking account? Is a chef only successful if they have a restaurant? And government assistance & bar mitzvahs?? How ignorant are you? Oh wait, you think Darling’s has good food. There’s my answer.

    • Native

      How would a freelance chef get a 401k?
      Use your spellcheck.

  • DANNY

    I dont have to agree with the food at Darlings but they always have a nice crowd! Tell me one succesful restaurant Shola has? or one venture he has been in that qualifies him to be a “great chef”?

  • DANNY

    At the end of the day Shola is not Garces enough said! He has no money, no credentials, and has not had one succsful venture! Unless you can tell me one thing that he has been a part of that is succesful, I could care less about your thoughts Shola! lol

  • Pedro Dias

    One thing about this that smells like raw sewage is the fact that the demand for a stake in future work seems to only have surfaced at the last minute. If Blatstein had been working in good faith, I would have expected the terms of the agreement to have been solidly in place long before this. If this “detail” was brought out recently, I’d have to agree that “ambush” seems an appropriate descriptor.

  • Libertine

    Dear DANNY,
    This is a blog about FOOD by and for FOOD-LOVERS. This is NOT a blog for developers and their shills and paid employees of businessmen to try and sway public opinion in favor of said developer’s massive EGO.
    Come on, man. You just look foolish.
    Stop it already.

  • DANNY

    OH LIBERTINE……. let me start off by saying “Hi hater” I will back off as soon as you or Shola answer a few questions: What has Shola been apart of that is succesful? If he is so great, why doesnt he have a resturant? Finally, Do you think cooking for 10 people qualifies you to be able to operate a restaurant? Sense I know you won’t be able to answer these with any facts, all I have to say is ‘Bye hater”

  • cleevus

    ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!! shillllllllllll!!!!!! this is like battle of the cocksuckers. someone call christopher guest.

  • J

    So, DANNY, after getting called out for trolling the comments here, you decide to turn to Grubstreet to vent your frustration and make yourself feel better, eh?

  • FoodLOVER

    All this ignorance blows me away. People who would not know good food if it smacked them across the face. Anyone who has ever met Shola knows he is one of the best chefs ever to enter the city of Philadelphia. Just because you slut yourself out to the food network and put your face on billboards does not make you a good chef. Shola has so much pride in his work and every plate of food he has ever made. It is so sad that Bart has his loser cronies on here making posts for him…

    • Tk421

      I have in fact met Shola and I have no idea whether or not he is a great chef. That might have something to do with the fact that he has never been the chef- as in executive kitchen manager- at any Philadelphia restaurant that I know of. What I did learn from meeting Shola, from waiting on him on numerous occasions and actually interviewing for a job at Speck, is that he is a colossal prick, an arrogant bastard, and has the social skills of a retarded third grader. Bart Blatstein may very well be an even bigger asshole than Shola, I don’t know the man, but I could care less, this is just too damn funny to me.

  • Sam Weiss

    Tower investments is a shady ass company and here is proof.
    I am sure Bart is the real problem here. He sets up his tenants to fail, sues them, wins and then gives them the option to stay in business so they are indebted to him forever. The man is like a virus. He just kicked out my friend to put a freaking psychic in the piazza.

    Go to:

    http://fjdclaims.phila.gov/phmuni/login.jsp

    This is philadelphia’s municipal court records.
    Facts do not lie kids.

    1. Log is as a public user and enter the text image for verification.
    2.Click “accept and it takes you to the case management system.
    3. Click “Search”
    4. Under the dropdown heading “TYPE” you have the option of case Id, plaintiff or defendant.
    5. Pick defendant. and in the search box enter “hancock restaurant”.
    6. Hit “go” and you will get 1 result Case #LT-09-11-05-3717 against Hancock Holdings LLC DBA (doing businessas) PYT.
    7. Click the case # and it opens up Pandora’s box of Bart.

    This is the law suit explaining how tower sued PYT for 56grand and then lent them the money to pay Tower the settlement and stay in business.

    8.Go to the far right under view and there are several clickable “view” links underneath the top one.
    9. Click the 5th one and you can see a copy of the ridiculous lease Bart gives to his tenants, this is in fact PYT’s current lease.

    He wants rent plus 3% of the gross sales and common area fees.
    Tommy Up is basically Bart’s bitch and will never get out of that place.
    I would not want to open there either.

  • JazzyJeff

    Let me preface this with the fact that I have never posted anything in my life on the internet – not on Facebook, Yelp, Foobooz, etc.

    Victor Fiorillo – I wonder who your source is – I happened to see your colleagues today having lunch with Bart at Rougue. What a joke… (by the way – Bart ordered the egg white omelet with EXTRA GOAT CHEESE and two Appletinis!)

    Honestly, Shola is one of the kindest people I have ever met. To call him ‘bristly’ (what an inventive word) is the most outlandish statement I have every heard. This is a great guy who has waited his whole life to open his own restaurant. He spent every cent of his money on this, he moved colleagues from NYC to work in the kitchen, and put his faith in Bart to be a partner – this was his dream.

    When Shola finally thought his vision for a restaurant would finally come to fruition, Bart’s ego and business sense took over. He demanded that Shola sign a life contract in blood. To quote Bart “I have tiger blood and I will own you forever”.

  • libertine 2

    Thanks Sam.

    Exactly. Thanks for posting the actual facts not bullshit speculation.

  • Do you belong to the Swim Club?

    Hahaha! I called this months ago, just by watching the goings-on with the construction. what a waste. 7 AM Sunday morning glass-breaking and metal-cutting. No respect for the overcharged residents in this over-hyped farce. Whoever opens that space owes us all several rounds of drinks. Where is the lifestyle we were presented with? Once they kicked out Sundaes, it’s been downhill. Business tenants that disappear in the middle of the night are not a good sign. The remaining businesses pay so much in rent, one can find comparable items and services in Rittenhouse for less. The Speck space will end up being the most expensive PF CHangs in the company.

  • nolibsy

    DJ JAZZY JEFF RIGHT ON!!!! Finally someone who actually knows the facts.

    Victor should be ashamed of himself.

  • Libertine

    DANNY,
    You are way tooooo funny!
    CLUE: Most of the people reading this blog know that Shola has worked for some of the top restaurateurs in the city and is greatly admired by them as well as having catered to or been a private chef to some of the most discerning people in Philadelphia.
    THAT’S WHY BART WANTED HIM SO BADLY.
    You can’t bust in here and disparage him on behalf of some creep without evidence.
    You have no credibility, Danny.
    Go away.

  • Max

    Jazz-
    You may be right. But c’mon – Shola is as bristly as a pinecone. No winners here

  • http://www.pytphilly.com Tommy Up

    Oh hai, my ears we’re burning. I really don’t enjoy commenting on other people’s business, but since I’ve been brought into this, what the hell…

    Bart believed in me and gave me the opportunity to open a place. When the chance to open PYT came up, he made it possible for me by lending me money personally. Try getting that deal somewhere. How many friends, relatives or business partners do you have that have offered to lend you an enormous sum of money? This was the only person on earth I have ever met who was willing to do this for me.

    We opened in late summer 2009 and the first winter at the Piazza was challenging and we got behind in rent, like many restaurants in the current economy, but he was way more lenient than any landlord really should have been. Cut to this year…our sales have tripled and we’ve had some amazing success stories. Everything from the Rachel Ray Show to being the number one selling restaurant on Groupon to a fun article that came out yesterday in a little magazine called Entrepreneur: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219386

    PYT is now booming. We’re expanding our seating and adding kitchen space and are on point for a multimillion dollar year. We don’t owe Bart a penny in rent and both he and I are quite happy about that fact. Is Bart a shrewd business guy? Of course. You don’t get to be on his financial level by being a push over. But the man uses his intuition and he trusts his feelings. Obviously it has served him well.

    He has made the American dream possible for me and he was under no obligation at all to do so. The man has been an angel to me, truly. He has not only made our restaurant possible but he has indirectly created jobs for many, many people. No matter how far I go in life I will never forget what this man has done for me.

    Here are a couple of clarifications…

    – Giving a small % of rent to a landlord is a common stipulation. Especially if the landlord pays or makes concessions for buildout costs. I have been approached by a couple of other huge developers in the last few months about opening a second location and I haven’t found a better deal than the one Bart gave me.

    – Sam, your friend Amber who was “kicked out” for a psychic wasn’t kicked out. I’ve been friends with her a long time. Ask her for clarification if you want. She’s an awesome person of course we miss her, but there was no booting of anyone.

    – Swift Half & Deuce we’re also not forced out due to rent hikes. Restaurants have a multi-year lease and a landlord cannot raise the rent out of nowhere. There were past due funds involved.

    – Bart doesn’t retain control of my, or as far as I know, anyone else’s liquor license. It’s all ours. It looks real pretty on the shelf.

    – PYT does not serve any of it’s four underage employees alcohol at anytime. If this was a reference to my friend & PYT’s beloved 20 year old server Sabina that passed away last spring, it’s in extremely poor taste.

    I was of course looking forward to Shola’s place opening. Gunner’s Run opened last week and it’s been very busy and I’m sure Shola’s place would have been busy too. But Shola’s a talented, well-known chef who will have no problem doing anything he wants to in his career.

    In summation…love you all, come get a Cheesesteak Pretzel Roll Burger.

    Tommy Up,
    PYT

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    Tommy Up,

    I’m sure you like sucking up to the boss, and everything you say sounds… a bit too rosy given all the evidence to the contrary. Firstly, there is plenty of venture capital out there so don’t make Bart out to be some kind of saint. It’s very obvious that Piazza has too much retail frontage for the area’s population density. Bart ‘pays’ people to occupy those storefronts to create the impression of a vibrant community, but in reality it evokes the headline from “the Onion”: ‘Variety Of Unsustainable Business Models Make Up Extremely Hip Neighborhood’.

    I’ll leave on this note – from Yelp: “I wasn’t impressed really… I kinda felt like I was in a Fudruckers that hung out with the wrong crowd.”

  • John

    In a Philly.com article from Monday, Bart says he owns the liquor licenses so he can switch people out quickly if need be. Not sure why Tommy up thinks everyone owns their own. Bart also dodges questions about the failed supermarket by saying he’s building a creative vibe. It’s a ridiculous read…enjoy!
    http://m.philly.com/phillycom/db_41063/contentdetail.htm;jsessionid=0E531D042D8CFF1981037C772F452655?contentguid=pXJdsxwt&detailindex=2&pn=0&ps=3

  • Sam Weiss

    He does own the licenses and forces the tenants to sell them back to tower for 65k although Tower sells them to you at 75k.
    If a tenant leaves and a new restaurant tenant takes over, it theoretically means Bart makes $20k for about 15 minutes of work by his teenage lawyer Adam Lisausky.

  • Sam Weiss

    Smoking gun !!!!

    Nice Lady Used to work for Tower.
    Got her own restaurant from Bart.
    He eventually sued and ruined her.
    She now works for Jose Garces.

    Um hello Jose you should have a chat with your people before doing business with Bart.

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/laura-vernola/4/97a/927

  • Bob

    I have no idea whether he can cook, as I have not been privy to his 10 person dinners. I do know that on the unfortunate few occasions that I have interacted with Shola and his sycophantic echo chamber of friends, it was intolerable. I love great food and restaurants, but I absolutley hate pretension. Shola and his supporters on this blog exemplify affectation, and I am so happy they will not have an outpost upon which to plant their self-important flags.

  • http://twitter.com/alexrolfe alex

    You have to have some serious abnormality to actively hope that some restaurant in some random part of a city DOESN’T open. Like, what is wrong with you people?

  • http://twitter.com/alexrolfe alex

    Also, Dear Danny, if you’re going to troll, at least have the decency to spell check. Thanks, the world

  • not new, but new name

    I’ve been to some of shola’s dinners. I know some people who absolutely love Shola, I know some people who absolutely cannot stand Shola. I know some people who think he’s upstanding. I know some people who think he’s shady.

    I know I want to eat his food again. A restaurant setting would be ideal…at his dinners, the prententiousness factor of the guests was once so high, I couldn’t enjoy my food (nevermind the idiot from NYC who tried to hit on my girlfriend while I was in the bathroom).

    I’d really like to be able to see what he can do in a restaurant setting again. It’d be nice to have his food while not having to share the table with some of the jackasses I’ve had to share a table with (hey dick from NYC, Darioush wine is overpriced and you paid for a name, you opened it too young, didn’t decant it, and you had the balls to say my tempranillo was too tannic for you? FOH. But did I say anything? No. be nice to your tablemates).

    Anyone who talks about him being an ass or whatever, I hope you vet all your restaurants based on that. And if you do, I’ve got a list of at least 15 foodie favorites you should never eat in. such is life. One of the biggest shola haters I know was excited to go to his restaurant, cuz we know the food is tasty.

  • http://www.eclipsegeneral.com,www.nanapetrillos.com Joe Cleary

    I don’t really have too much to add to this, but I just want to add that I own a business in the piazza. Bart has never given me any money towards my business, but he has been nothing but supportive and helpful since I first inquired about opening the store, and signed my lease.. He’s let me pick his brain from everything from business to real estate… There have been days he’s stopped by to just chat and see how I’m doing, and asked how he or anyone could help. He’s made time in his day to answer any questions I may have had and helped in anyway he could.

    People may say he’s a asshole, but I’ve never seen that. What I have seen is a very smart business man, you don’t get to his level by not being one. Some people take that as rude, snobbish, or being a asshole. I guess if you’re not involved in business, you wouldn’t get it. Its not being an asshole or any of those things. Its being concerned with whats going on with your side of the business table or transaction…

    I wish Shola the best, I’d never wish anyone something negative towards their investment or business. I’ve heard from friends that have attended his dinners that his food is amazing. I was hoping to try it here in the piazza, but I’m sure he’ll have success somewhere else.. As for the space, Its a beautiful space, and is impressive to look at both outside and inside.. what ever fills it, I cant wait to visit and taste what its offering.

  • Ryan

    Why choose sides? Can’t we just agree that both are overhyped a-holes?

  • Mike H.

    I have been to Shola’s private parties. He is a good Chef, but I honestly don’t think he would survive as a restaurant. Shola is rude and arrogant and perhaps he met his match. Shola, why don’t you share with the rest of the world how you screwed me over. I don’t know Blatstein, but based on what Shola did to me, im certain Blatstein had his reasons for cutting him off! Shola, why don’t you also tell these 7 people how you have walked out of numerous restaurants as the chef just because you woke up on the wrong side of the bed.(example Vetri)

  • dale

    I like you Cleevus.

  • :( no libs

    so much fun to read all of this – such hatred on all sides
    I love the “facts” that are posted – court documents noting failure to pay rent which Tommy has admitted.

    The posted article Bart admits he owns 8 liquor licenses – not all 12 so I’m assuming Tommy is correct in that he owns his.

    I do have some questions:
    @Libertine – “Sholas worked for some of the top restaurateurs?” Who – Ive been in Philly more than 6 years and he hasn’t been working for anyone in that time

    I agree that any space not opening is sad – sad for the people who own it, whose dream it was, the investors, the community, the staff etc – but based on the areas demographics did anyone think this was going to be a success?
    Thats the question I’d most love to hear answered here – much of his following is not the type who want to go to the Piazza.
    They aren’t taking the blue line that’s for sure and aren’t the type who frequent NoLibs. These are Rittenhouse/Society Hill/Main Line people – not fixie riders looking to pound cheap shots, tecate, PBR etc. It may have classed up the neighborhood but how long would it have survived?

  • Daytime Drinker

    This sheet is getting out of control and people are just posting whatever.
    ummmm Shola never worked for Vetri.
    Dude you have no idea what you are talking about.
    Mike H. it seems you are dying to so why don’t you just tell us how he screwed you.

  • NYer

    This entire thread is a case study in why this is such a lame food town.

  • Anonymous

    LOL. Tommy, pull Barts dick out of your mouth. Everyone knows he owns you and you’ll never go anywhere or do anything without that monkey on your back…and in your pocket. It’s a shame really, while I personally am not a fan of PYT I recognize the success you’ve built. It’s a model that could be used in any college town across the country. Hmmm, I don’t have any monkey’s on my back or in my pocket…maybe I’ll start a franchise.

  • harold

    Just a few statements I would like to add to this endless thread

    I was really hoping shola would have a burger with applewood smoked bacon and roquefort at speck, an homage to his days at blu

    Shola is not the only pretentious a hole “chef” in the city need i remind you of the fat ass with the refined neighborhood convenience store food, the coke bottle glassed francophile obsessed with a country miles away, or the guy willing to talk your ear off about how great his mother in laws food was, the industry is full of them its part of the territory

    Why on earth does shola want a restaurant anyway? He does well enough with his catering and photography and seems to have some fair amounts of free time (in which he is always with a new hot chick)

    When did shola work at vetri? i think i missed that because like most of our “phoodies” you talk out your ass and think your opinion is the end all be all, when its more kin to winning the special olympics. Its nice and all but no one really cares

    And last but not least where is that super hot asian sous chef going to end up?

  • Max

    Butt out NYer, let us deliberate who is the bigger douche in peace. Go back to your own board.

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    NYer, that’s the hypocritical comment of the day and totally uncalled for.

  • ScrappleJacks

    I’ve known Shola fairly well for a number of years, and yeah, he can be arrogant, but rude? Never! He’s a really sweet and sincere guy. Flaky maybe.

    He worked for Starr and Neil Stein and maybe Perrier too. He also spent some time with Heston Blumenthal at Fat Duck. For quite a number of years he worked behind the scenes with tons of people as a consultant, getting restaurants up and running. I’m pretty sure he didn’t work for Vetri.

    For a long time Jeff Lurie was going to back him on a restaurant project. Not sure if that played out with Speck.

    Oh, and one more thing, $1 million is chump change for restaurants like this. Starr and Garces spend multi-millions on their restaurants.

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    When all is said and done, Bart’s main interest is filling the space with restaurants he can control. Every big-shot landlord like him plays the same games, and there are always a few ‘favorite’ tenants willing to vouch for them. It’s no different than doing business with trump and a casino. You need to know they are sharks from the get-go.

    For some people, making that particular deal with the devil is acceptable. The obvious advantages Blatstein brings to the table are funding and total control. The city of Philly makes it very tough to open a restaurant so it helps when somebody with power brings it all together. Definitely a double-edged sword. Make no mistake though, Blatstein asks you to sign over your soul.

  • http://phillymarketcafe.blogspot.com/ gil

    Re:#50
    Rachel Ray and #1 on Groupon … inscrutable credentials & apropos qualifications for the Pits at Schmidts.

    It seems a mistake for Blatstein to screw Shola. Shouldn’t any thread of credibility or integrity be viewed as essential to the Blatstein organization. Speck could be an elixir that helps transforms perception of his projects from narrow greed to urban inventiveness.

  • Marlene

    Let’s look at this situation with some perspective.

    All business deals don’t work out.

    Shola is an adult and is intelligent. Presumably he can negotiate a business deal or hire a capable attorney to represent him. Same with Blatstein.

    The two of them should have had some firm understanding of what the agreed upon transaction was before they got this far.

    Or — facts change, circumstances change.

    Both of them will land on their feet. There are plenty of chefs looking for restaurants and there are many folks looking forward to their next Shola meal.

    The facts behind “the break-up” are really none of our business.

    There is no reason not to wish them both well.

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    Marlene is right.

  • Lord Chezza

    Ok, this is how we’re gonna do this:

    Iron Chef America: Olunloyo vs. Iron Chef Garces

    Judges: Rick Nichols, Jeffrey Steingarten, and Jeffery Garten (what the hell, right?)

    Secret Ingredient: Kenzinger.

    Allez Cuisine, b*tches.

  • anon

    Marlene,

    Your ‘perspective’ reads like ‘control issues’. Your summation of the situation sounds like your reffing a play date.

  • http://www.pytphilly.com Tommy Up

    I like turtles.

  • bingo bob

    i would like to publicly apologize for any comments I have said about underage drinking at PYT. I have never seen this at his place.

  • http://www.kitchinbitchin.com Kitchin Bitchin

    @ Harold. The sous chef isn’t all that hot. Cute, but that’s about it. She came down from NYC to work with Shola, so I’d say she’ll head back to NYC.

  • LeBoulavardier

    @JazzyJeff “I have tiger blood and I will own you forever”. There is no way that smarmy weasel uttered those words. Preposterous. Did he?

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    I like turtle soup.

  • bingo bob

    in reviewing my comments of earlier, it was not fair for me to categorize PYT as a place that should be “shut down because of underage drinking.” I have no proof of this as has been pointed out to me, and would AGAIN like to apologize for these accusations. I hope that PYT lasts a long time since I really do think the PIAZZA has a lot of potential and sorry to see so many stores being shut down.

    Once again to Tommy Up and his staff, I am truly sorry for this remark.

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    Bingo Bob apparently received a death threat…

  • Libertine

    I have never, ever, ever seen any evidence whatsoever of political influence trafficking or environmental crimes or violations of L & I or Fire Dept safety codes or illegal drug transactions or prostitution or RICO statutes, or deprivation of public trust or even jaywalking in or around the Piazza at Schmidt’s. I swear. I never even saw a person spit.

  • Bartholomew B. Bartholomew

    Bart can’t be that bad a guy – afterall his name is Bartholomew.

    The B. is for Bartholomew

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    Libertine, you give me old-school ROTFLMAO

  • Libertine

    Oh! and, I forgot to add, I have NEVER, ever, ever seen an underage person person drink any alcoholic beverages on the Piazza premises. Especially not Bart Blatstein’s son. Particularly not at PYT. And he NEVER once vomited in the hallways or elevator. I swear.

  • P.S.

    B is for BARTON.
    Not Batholomew.
    Just thought you’d want to know.

  • P.S.

    The sous chef is most definitely HOT.
    Philly’s loss if she goes back to NYC.

  • Bartholomew B. Bartholomew

    DAMMIT! Well I tried.

  • http://trickzonephilly.com Seth Rovner

    I am not a restaurant in the piazza or a bar. But I did get a chance at opening a business in the Piazza and so far it has been successful (TrickZone). I have had my problems as everyone else with Tower, but I have never felt that I would be kicked out or have locked doors on me at any time. I am sure there are circumstances that no one will ever know between the two parties. I can not wait to see what happens with that space. It is a great location in the piazza and I think whatever opens up there will thrive very well. From what I heard I think Shola will do well whatever his next endeavor is.

  • FrankRizzo

    what’s a shola?

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    Seth Rovner,

    You say this on your web site “The past 5 years has brought a great transformation of the community. Rising property values and new development has made the neighborhood one of the most desirable places to live and new businesses are opening and thriving.”

    That’s a statement that is easy to disprove, using nothing but facts. Property values in NoLibs have dropped for 5 years running, having peaked in 2006. The result of that has been a robust rental market.

    I question the ‘greatness’ of the Speck location, to me it’s actually one of the worst locations in the Piazza, especially for a restaurant – stuck in a dark corner with no street frontage. The location would be perfect for (yet another) cafe, but a serious restaurant? I don’t enjoy struggling to find parking and then walking in the cold/rain/heat/whatever to get to a restaurant. Why would anybody who drives a luxury car (i.e. people who eat expensive dinners-out) go there? What do you do after dinner… go bowling? Shola will do much better if he opens up in Center City instead of the Hipster Ghetto that is NoLibs.

  • john

    @seth rovner

    Im pretty sure Ive remember hearing back when the piazza was opening and filling in tentants, that you are Bart’s friends son. Im bet thats why you havent felt like you would be kicked out.

  • montgomery

    i have a comment here now too!

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    I took a walk through the Piazza today – Darling’s was full, PYT was busy but definitely drawing a shady crowd… what looked like gang members passed out on the nasty chaise lounges out front. The rest of the Piazza’s stores – empty. The look on some of the shopkeepers faces said it all – “I’m going bankrupt, how do I get out of this mess”. Shola should be counting his blessings.

  • Sam Weiss

    TK421.
    You are obviously an idiot since you do not even have the basic intelligence to figure out that your own statements make no sense.
    If you have waited on someone numerous times and concluded they were “a colossal prick, an arrogant bastard, and have the social skills of a retarded third grader”
    why on earth then would you go interview for a job with them.
    You are just another one of these anonymous probably racist idiots. Lets call a spade a spade.

  • daytimedrinker

    Hey Im the 100th commenter on a foobooz article!
    Is that some record?

    a lot of petty, angry, and misinformed posts all around
    so much hate in Philly
    Thank God Im moving to SF next week
    No more PPA, no more PGW, No more Septa and hopefully no hate filled West Coast food blogs

  • J

    First! Oh, wait, nevermind…

  • olivia

    Fairly obvious that “Sam Weiss” is Shola. Defensive much?

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    @Daytimedrinker

    Oh, yes, the ‘grass’ is greener in SF. Enjoy smelling your own farts and ‘tripping’ – over homeless people, that is.

    No city has a larger population of snarky haters and deluded foodie bloggers than SF.

    I’m sure you will fit in perfectly.

    @Olivia

    No, it’s not obvious that’s Shola. What’s obvious is that you are (literally) ignorant. I wonder who you think I am?

  • http://www.foxnews.com MrOpinionator

    That’s impossible, I’m Shola.

  • John

    Wait, I’m confused… Which one is Shola, Sam Weiss or MrOpinionator? Or both? Or is one of them that crazy lady that follows him around?

  • Max

    Waaah! People are commenting on a douche chef and an asshole landlord and my feelings are hurt! I’m going to San Francisco! Waaah!

    (I’m running out of ideas – I just want to get this to 200 posts and obliterate all Foobooz records)

  • Sam Weiss

    Ha ha
    Olivia get a life.
    All this illustrates is how all you hypocrites post anonymous dumb shit on foobooz.
    Hey I use my real e mail.
    Feel free to contact me Sam.weiss70@yahoo.com
    I will meet your dumb ass anywhere in this city.
    lol@john

  • http://philly.com Sam Weiss

    Now I’m Sam Weiss – not! Can’t Foobooz stop people from cloning other people’s profiles? Very annoying.

  • Olivia

    Oh wow you really are Shola.
    Your “real email”, impressive. That and $2 will get you a ride on the El.
    You should use your real name too Mr. Olunyolo.

  • Olivia

    Actually I confess I said all those nasty things because I have a crush on Shola but he ignores me and I thought I wanted revenge, but I really just want him to know I care.

  • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com Foobooz

    HIPSTERS! Well this has certainly devolved. We’ll be closing the comments now.