clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Illustration of two men wearing suits sided by two building facades.
Grant King (left) of Relevant Group and Dan Daley (right), CEO of Ten Five Hospitality.
Photo illustration by Eater | Photos: Ten Five Hospitality, Relevant Group

Filed under:

Inside the Backroom Battle for Mother Wolf, One of Hollywood’s Hottest Restaurants

Lawsuits, trademark infringement, and corporate intrigue could derail LA restaurants like Mother Wolf and Ka’Teen, and workers are caught in the middle

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Two prominent Hollywood hospitality companies are vying for control of some of the city’s hottest new restaurants and nightlife spots, including Mother Wolf, and the ongoing legal battle has already likely led to the closure of British-style pub the Chap.

Ten Five Hospitality, a limited liability company that served as the managerial face of some of the city’s most important new openings — including chef Wes Avila’s Ka’Teen, French-inspired lounge Bar Lis, Palm Springs-y live music venue and cocktail bar Desert Five Spot, the Tommie and Thompson hotels, the Chap, and Evan Funke’s consistently packed Mother Wolf — is locked in an escalating fight with the Relevant Group, the developers and current owners of the buildings in which those businesses sit.

Over the past several weeks, Relevant, led by managing partner Grant King, has severed ties with Ten Five Hospitality and is now handling all aspects of the restaurants’ operations, despite protests from Ten Five. Documents obtained by Eater and conversations with several employees for both Relevant Group and Ten Five Hospitality tell a sordid tale that includes allegations of fraud, mismanagement, and employee coercion.

Despite multiple requests for comment, both the Relevant Group and Ten Five Hospitality declined to speak on the record regarding the increasingly public quarrel.

In late January, Relevant Group distributed a letter of intent to employees at the Tommie and Thompson hotels, as well as attached restaurants like Mother Wolf. The letter asked workers to formally resign their positions at Ten Five Hospitality LLC and its affiliates and instead become employees at Relevant Group LLC. The move was highly unusual, and pitted workers with a lot of questions against one another and management. Several high-ranking restaurant managers decided to quit, with one recently departed employee saying that other restaurant workers who agreed to sign on with Relevant were offered spot bonuses of up to $200 to change companies. Serious confusion has followed, with some of LA’s biggest restaurant names hanging in the balance — along with the livelihoods of hundreds of employees.

A roving amaro cart with server at the ready, holding a bottle.
A worker at an amaro cart in the Mother Wolf dining room.
Wonho Frank Lee

On January 24, shortly after Relevant’s letter of intent, Ten Five Hospitality principal Dan Daley sent an email to employees. In the note, obtained by Eater, Daley claims that Ten Five Hospitality has filed suit against Relevant Group “for a number of breaches of the legally binding agreements that exist between the two companies.” He continues:

Regardless of what Relevant Group or its representatives have told you or claimed, Ten Five Hospitality is the lawful manager of the Thompson, Tommie, and Citizen News Buildings, and has the exclusive legal right to the Intellectual Property and Trademarks of Bar Lis, Ka’Teen, Desert Five Spot, and Mother Wolf as contemplated in agreements signed with Relevant.

Five days later, the situation took another dramatic turn. In a second email to employees, sent on January 29, Daley claimed that “Relevant has wrongfully taken over the operations and barred Ten Five and its employees from the properties.” As a result of “Relevant’s bad faith conduct,” he continued, the limited liability companies that initially oversaw Ten Five’s projects are no longer operating those restaurants. As such, Ten Five “[does] not have any work for [employees] to perform.”

“Accordingly, if you do not transition to Relevant, we would be forced to lay you off until there is work available,” the email reads. “At this time, we do not anticipate work becoming available in the near future.”

The following day, January 30, Relevant sent out its own email to employees. Claudia Irvine, Relevant’s regional director of people and culture, wrote that “Relevant Group terminated their contract with Ten Five Hospitality as of last Monday [January 23].” She went on to add that “our priority is to reassure you that you all continue to have a home on campus, with no changes to your day-to-day operations, including your position and pay.”

“It was like Game of Thrones-type stuff,” says the recently departed employee who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing litigation and the power of both hospitality groups. “[Relevant] used scare tactics with kitchen staff to get them to sign on. Like, if you want your job, then you’ll sign.”

Hospitality workers union UNITE HERE Local 11, which is working to organize employees of the businesses involved, says that it is aware of the ongoing litigation and uncertain future for many employees. “Relevant Group’s hospitality empire is imploding because of mismanagement and internal squabbles,” the group said in a statement to Eater. “The victims of their incompetence are the servers, cooks, dishwashers, and other restaurant workers whose lives have been thrown into utter chaos over the past week.”

The dispute comes in the wake of Relevant’s ongoing foreclosure proceedings stemming from the default of a $72 million loan against the 190-room Thompson Hotel and adjacent 212-room Tommie Hotel, as first reported by the Real Deal. Lincoln Carson’s Mes Amis, located on the ground floor of the Thompson and also previously operated by Ten Five Hospitality, closed in mid-December as part of what was described at the time as an overhaul to the kitchen team there. It has not yet reopened.

Relevant and Ten Five Hospitality are even sparring over Mother Wolf’s trademark, a crucial asset given the restaurant’s popularity and marketability in other cities (multiple sources tell Eater that Daley was in the process of expanding Mother Wolf outside of LA). Ten Five first filed a trademark claim in January 2022 for full ownership of the Mother Wolf name and logo, with Relevant filing an opposition to Ten Five’s claim just this month. Relevant’s claim states in no uncertain terms that Daley and an investor, Andrew Shayne, “engaged in impermissible self-dealing, breached fiduciary duties owed to [Relevant Group] and its affiliates, and engaged in fraud” in the very foundation of Ten Five Hospitality as a management entity overseeing the restaurants in question.

Via a lawyer, Shayne denied the allegations in Relevant’s opposition claim and stated that he “has not engaged in self-dealing, breach of fiduciary duties, fraud or any other alleged improper actions,” and that he “acted appropriately and legally at all times in his dealings with his then-business associates.”

In 2019 Daley was the chief operating officer for Relevant (a role that is still listed as current on Daley’s LinkedIn profile), according to the opposition filed by Relevant. In that role, Relevant claims, Daley helped to bring the idea — including the design, menu focus, and name — of Mother Wolf to life, with chef Evan Funke as part of a “consulting and license agreement.” Funke had previously run the pandemic pop-up restaurant Fingers Crossed in Hollywood at the Relevant Group-owned Dream Hotel.

A darkened room with wall lamps at the Chap restaurant in Hollywood, California.
The Chap’s closed dining room.
Richard Stow

In August 2021 (and for reasons still unknown), Daley — a Relevant employee — spun off Ten Five Hospitality as its own limited liability company. He then entered into a “food and beverage services management agreement” with Relevant, which allowed Ten Five to oversee the restaurants at Hollywood’s Citizen News Building (including Mother Wolf), according to Relevant’s trademark opposition claim. That action has since snowballed, with Daley and Ten Five claiming the legal right to full operational control over all of the restaurants in question (as well as the intellectual property for Mother Wolf), and Relevant alleging that the original management agreement was founded fraudulently and therefore null and void.

Both Relevant and Ten Five declined to answer questions about the original operating agreement between the two, or to discuss why or how Daley was allowed to act as both the COO of Relevant and the CEO of Ten Five Hospitality simultaneously.

A dimly lit restaurant with wooden tables and glowing, hanging basket lights.
Outdoor dining at Ka’Teen.
Wonho Frank Lee
A long dining room with golden touches and palm fronds at night.
Mes Amis’ closed dining room.
Wonho Frank Lee

According to a former manager within Ten Five Hospitality, this infighting likely contributed to the permanent closure of the Chap, which opened in November 2022. An internal email sent to the Chap’s employees on February 1 by Kristin Kimiya of Relevant, and reviewed by Eater, confirms its closure as of February 1, though the restaurant’s Instagram page only just announced the shutter on February 11. “It is with regret that I inform you that the Chap will be closing effectively today 2/1,” the email begins, adding: “There is not much else to say, other than I’m sorry that this is coming out of the blue right on the heels of a chaotic and confusing week of transition.”

A lawyer for Relevant tells Eater that while the company has no comment on Dan Daley or Ten Five, “Last week, the dining and nightlife venues at the Tommie, Thompson, and Citizen News had their best week since opening. And Mother Wolf’s performance under chef Evan Funke has been phenomenal.” While that may or may not be true, what’s even less certain is the future of Mother Wolf, Ka’Teen, Bar Lis, and the rest. Several key employees have already left restaurants like Mother Wolf as a result of the infighting, and protracted legal battles could eventually sink more than just one restaurant. As of now, despite all of its successes and accolades, the future of Mother Wolf in LA and beyond is still very much in question.

Update 2/27/23: This story has been updated to include a statement from Andrew Shayne, denying allegations of impermissible self-dealing or a breach of fiduciary duties.

Mother Wolf

1545 Wilcox Avenue, , CA 90028 (323) 410-6060 Visit Website
LA Restaurant News

The Rundown on the New Laws That Will Impact California’s Vital Restaurant Industry

AM Intel

Koreatown’s Affordable Brazilian Barbecue Expands to New Gardena Location

LA Cocktails

Downtown LA’s Extravagant New Nightclub Features Live Lucha Libre Wrestling Matches