Johnny Chu is locked out of Fate, the downtown Asian restaurant he created six years ago.
Longstanding disagreements between him and partner/landlord Norman Fox boiled over last Wednesday afternoon, when Chu says he discovered that Fox had changed all the locks on Fate and Next Door, and obtained a restraining order against him. Chu says he hasn't been able to get his personal belongings from the premises, adding that Fox has threatened to fire employees who talk to him.
Fox has not returned a message left for him today at Fate. Chu told us his story this afternoon.
According to Chu, Fox told him, "Why don't you get your ass back in the kitchen and cook?" Chu countered that he's Fox's partner, not his employee. (Chu says he owns 40 percent of the business; he sold 50 percent to Fox in 2003, and another partner owns 10 percent.) He adds that he disagrees with Fox's plans to make Fate "more corporate, like an Applebee's."
Chu says Fox declined his offer to partner on his new restaurant, Sens, and that in the last few weeks, Fox has been upset that Chu hasn't been cooking full-time at Fate. Chu says he has been doing the shopping and morning prep at Fate every day before heading to Sens. (His wife also gave birth a few weeks ago, he notes.)
Fate's liquor license is in now limbo, Chu says, because he went to the liquor control board to remove his name as the agent on the license.
"This is so sad, because I've been married to that place for so many years," he says.
-- Michele Laudig