The sleepy coastal California town of Carmel has been abuzz in the past few weeks with emerging news of the seemingly less-than-amicable split inside of Coastal Luxury Management. To catch everyone up: CLM is the parent company behind such luminary things as downtown’s Faith & Flower, Las Vegas’ rose.rabbit.lie. and the Food & Wine festivals in both Los Angeles and Pebble Beach.
Last summer, Rob Weakley walked away from the management company that he co-founded with David Bernahl, who is still very much in charge at CLM. There was a closed-door buyout that allowed Weakley to voluntarily walk away, and since then things haven’t been going quite as smooth for the luxury management brand, which just recently gave up control of its Vegas restaurant.
Now, amidst a swirl of legal documents and apparent power struggles, both the Monterey County Weekly and lesser-known Carmel Pine Cone have begun digging into the mountain of paperwork to find out just what’s going on. Here are the eight things uncovered so far.
Bernahl and Weakley didn’t always dream so big: According to the Monterey County Weekly, the former duo got along famously from the start, but didn’t initially have the vision they do now. "At one point, they visited a dry cleaning conference looking to finalize a scheme for a clothes laundering venture." That was ultimately not in the cards, thankfully, as Bernahl allegedly decided to take a $40,000 line of credit against his home (Weakley, for his part, sold much of his wine cellar) in order to finance their restaurant management group.
Weakley walked away with hundreds of thousands of dollars: In a December 19 lawsuit brought to Monterey County Superior Court, Weakley alleges that incoming CLM partner Charles Banks hasn’t held up to his end of Weakley’s deal to walk away. While the full amount due in the split isn’t disclosed, what is known is that Weakley is looking for at least $250,000 that’s owed to him, which represents only one of multiple scheduled payments due to him. And that’s not including the $25,000 in ‘late fees’. But the exact reason for why those payments weren't been made isn't clear at the moment.
CLM’s lawyers haven't been so happy with Weakley since he left: Scott Vick, who represents Coastal Luxury Management, Bernahl and new partner Banks, called Weakley "disgruntled" and alleges, according to the Carmel Pine Cone, that he tried to "actively defraud" the company after leaving.
There’s a power struggle downtown: In the midst of all the drama within Coastal Luxury Management and it’s former co-owner, there’s trouble behind the scenes at Faith & Flower too. The original deal at the restaurant was for CLM to manage the day to day while millionaires Cindy and Jeff Troesh (who walked away with a huge profit after selling the Watermarke Tower) put in the necessary cash to finance the beautiful restaurant, but now it seems there’s an imbalance in the 50-50 split. On January 6, lawyers for the Troeshes and CLM met in L.A. Superior Court over what has become a serious power struggle, with the Troeshes looking for more access to the restaurant’s books and day-to-day management.
Security guards (and the cops) have gotten involved: At one point in November, multiple sources note, the Troeshes even showed up with beefy security and a locksmith in an attempt to force a hostile takeover of the restaurant. According to the Carmel Pine Cone, Cinty Troesh threw around words like "thief" and "Ponzi scheme" in reference to Bernahl, and even involved employees on site when photocopying documents as "evidence."
Someone’s going to be looking at Faith & Flower’s books: At primary odds is the Troesh family alleging that Bernahl has been improperly pushing funds from the restaurant into other restaurants that CLM controls, as well as using some money for personal use. In that January 6 complaint, according to the Monterey County Weekly, the Troeshes wanted a judge to hand over full operational control of the restaurant to them, though said judge ultimately sided with Bernahl and CLM in allowing an independent forensic audit instead.
Cannery Row, Pebble Beach Food & Wine, Restaurant 1833 aren't going away: Despite all the rocky waters, everyone agrees that CLM is not a sinking ship. Furthermore, most of the allegations either concern ex-frontman Weakley and CLM or CLM and the money family behind Faith & Flower — the rest of Coastal Luxury Management’s business is, by all accounts, going just fine.
All this rough-housing could be over soon: The Monterey County Weekly is adamant that all sides have been trying to mediate their way to a resolution that works for everyone. Considering the popularity of Faith & Flower, as well as CLM’s Food & Wine events, it’s no surprise that there’d be a push to wash away any bad blood. From the Monterey County Weekly: "If it doesn’t work out," Bernahl says, "Nobody wins."