Tom Knox Sues Table 31
Thursday was a busy day for multi-millionaire businessman Tom Knox. The failed 2007 mayoral candidate, who recently considered a bid for the Pennsylvania governor’s seat before thinking better of it, announced that he wants to enter Philadelphia’s 2015 mayors’ race. And on the same day, Knox filed a lawsuit against Table 31, the Comcast Center restaurant where he has been a partner since its opening in 2008.
At the center of Knox’s suit is this: He no longer gets a 50 percent discount on any food or beverage consumed at Table 31. No, really. Oh, Knox has other qualms, too, including some ominous-sounding alleged securities violations and the state of Table 31’s business in general (the suit states that the business has operated at a loss for the last five years), but it’s the half-off thing that he keeps coming back to. Again and again.
According to the suit, filed in Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court by well-known local attorney George Bochetto, the discount was part of a deal that had Knox putting $250,000 of his own hard-earned money into the project, which had been expected to cost $7,500,000 to open.
The suit names the Table 31 partnership (prominent investors include former Dollar Express magnate Bernie Spain, builder Jeffrey Orleans, and Jones New York co-founder Rena Rowan Damone) as well as chef/partner Chris Scarduzio individually. It does not specifically name Georges Perrier, who opened the restaurant with Scarduzio and who still owns shares of Table 31. Among other demands, Knox calls for the dissolution of the partnership.
Knox claims that while the 50-percent-off deal was initially honored, Table 31 stopped discounting his dinners in 2010, while the restaurant was facing huge losses. According to a letter to Knox from Scarduzio and Table 31 CFO Ed Lack, those net losses amounted to a whopping $1 million in 2009 and another $500,000 or so during the first five months of 2010.
When he stopped getting the VIP treatment, Knox complained, and the discount was reinstated in 2011. Then in 2012, he was back to paying full price. Again, he made a stink about it. But “Scarduzio refused to honor the terms of the investment agreement, and, to date, Plaintiffs continue to be denied the 50% discount on their food and beverage purposes,” reads the complaint. (Wife Linda Knox is also a plaintiff in the suit.)
Reached on Friday morning, Scarduzio says the decision to rescind the meal discount was applied across the board to all investors, and he expects the matter to be resolved shortly. “I have nothing but love and respect for Tom,” he says. “I’ve known him for 25 years. The minute I heard about this, I called him, and we’re working through it. I expect it to be resolved in a matter of days.”