Ever since I wrote The Saga Of Las Colinas Prime in June 2009, and several other reports detailing the shady shenanigans of restaurant operators Michael Costa and Bill McCrorey, I have been contacted by disgruntled employees, vendors, landlords, customers, and former partners.
Most recently, complaints and concerns about Bill McCrorey resurfaced after a deal he made for Blackfinn American Saloon went sour. Sadly, too many of the people who got shafted failed to do one thing before they jumped in: it’s called google (LMGTFY).
If I had a dollar for every time someone called me and said “I wished I’d googled Bill McCrorey’s name before I wrote him a check” I would be living in Tahiti with a closet full of pareus.
Instead, I report: Cade Mannetti, a former employee of McCrorey and his partner Thomas McMurray, currently operating Rare Restaurant and Lounge in the Shops at Park Lane, has filed a lawsuit to recover unpaid compensation and health care insurance. Here is a link to the petition. It’s a sad read.
The saga of Bill McCrorey is long. I’ve written a short version. If you make it through the tale, I have several burning questions that need answers. Please chime in.
Several weeks ago, I tried to reach Visionary Restaurant Group and the voice mailbox was full. I drove to their office, at Walnut Hill and Central, and found a lockout notice from landlord on the door. This morning, Rare’s name appeared on the TABC Credit Law Delinquent List for the second report in a row which means they have not legally been able to replenish their alcohol for at least a month. They celebrated their grand opening on July 20.
I just drove by Visionary Restaurant Group. The space is empty and there is a notice from the landlord on the door.
Bill McCrorey and his partner, Thomas McMurray, formed Mastermind Construction as the company behind the construction of Rare. A few months ago, I spoke with McMurray. He told me he personally put in $5 million on the project. Several of the subcontractors who worked for Mastermind have contacted me and complained that McCrorey is “giving them the runaround” on payment. The amounts are relatively small: they range from $6,000 to $10,000 each. However, one contractor told me he has six subcontractors and the collective total owed is close to $100,000. I told them to contact an attorney and let me know what happens.
On July 26, six days after the grand opening of Rare, I received a note from an employee. It said: “Did you write that article on dmag about the blackfinns closing? If so I’d like to talk to you about Rare”
For several days, he/she sent me information about what was going behind-the-scenes at Rare. He/she asked: “Keep my name anonymous.” Here are some snippets:
9/26: “The main financial investor who is no longer a partner is suing Bill and he is a friend of mine. I talked to him last week and am meeting with him and his lawyer next week. I’ll give you some details about what’s really going down next week.”
9/26: “I have people messaging me on Facebook from a furniture company saying we owe them $15k for over 6 months and when can they get their money…when the hostesses which I’m over and wait staff start bouncing payroll checks that’s when I get mad!And I’m working there basically pro bono.”
9/26: “TABC came in two weeks ago and wrote us up for not having the tabc permit out and they claimed it was off getting framed or some bs… I fully have the TABC ticket that the agents wrote up.”
I received close to 30 reports from this employee. On August 2, his/her story changed.
“I restored my friendship with Bill over the past 5 days. Prior to me working at Rare we were pretty close friends and he was just going through a lot of hardships with his divorce and the restaurant so I felt neglected and unappreciated. Bill really is a decent good hearted guy even though at times under stress he may come across as crass and impulsive. He is a devoted father and businessman and restaurants is basically a minority of his work yet he has a passion for it. Thanks for your time and I’m glad I found out the truth.”
My anonymous source is no longer at Rare. I tried to call Mastermind Construction, which lists the same address and phone number as Visionary Restaurant Group, and the number is disconnected. At 10:50 this morning I drove to the restaurant and knocked on the door. Nobody answered. I called the main number from the parking lot and nobody answered. I have now called the restaurant five times in the last hour. I finally left a message.
Here are my questions to landlords, potential investors, and contractors: How do people with a long list of lawsuits and histories of non-payment for services, writing hot checks, and screwing over employees and vendors continue to do business? Why does the TABC license businesses with these known serial scam artists as principals in the business? Why do landlords lease to them? Why do employees go to work for these people?
It really baffles me. They know how to work the scam. They keep the amounts owned to people low so they can’t afford to sue. If they do, they settle for pennies on the dollar.
Kudos to Cade Mannetti and any one else who steps forward and either files a lawsuit or calls the authorities. Anybody care to add a few words?