Travertine Blowup Brings Out the Lawyers, Mark Baker Swims with Dolphins

So this Travertine/XIX piece I posted Friday seems to have stirred the pot. I think that metaphor is a little weak — it was more like the chubby kid doing a cannonball and drenching the sunbathers by the pool. There’s even a lawyer involved now, although who he represents isn’t clear to me. The weekend was spent conversing through various media with the players involved.

Mark Baker is out in Bali working on some events and swimming with dolphins. Actually, the last correspondence had him too upset to swim with dolphins. Ruben Rivera is off working at W.I.P. and planning moves that will eventually have him on top of the nightlife world. Owner Danae Cappelletto communicated with me via Facebook, which indicates she is back in Australia. So this conversation involves people in exotic Australia, Bali, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg. Now that’s sexy.

Danae was very upset with me, but I gave her the "don’t shoot the blogger" rap, and she apologized and said she was going to send me her side of things today for publication. I did get a letter from a lawyer for "Travertine LLC":

… we insist that you immediately remove the article from your web site and then issue a public retraction.

Had your staff done even a minimal level of fact checking before printing the unfounded and libelous accusations, you would have learned that the content of the article is false. Mr. Rivera, who as his own agenda, resigned from his position in advance of his imminent dismissal for unprofessional conduct and a matter that is being investigated. His quotes are merely the ramblings of a disgruntled, former associate.

Your reported insinuations about Travertine are not only untrue, but have caused and continue to cause damages to Travertine. Worse still, by being a conduit for the public defamation of Travertine, you are effectively interfering with the ongoing operation of the Travertine business.

Danae wasn’t talking lawsuit; she was just asking for her piece to be posted in the interest of clarification. So who knows who’s behind this letter.

Mark Baker has told me he has decided to get out of the project. He seems to be taking the high road here. I love Mark and have always known him to try his best to be a gentleman. I hope he and Ruben kiss and make up. Ruben is out and working and happy. Emails and texts from him are focused on the future and a lesson-learned attitude. I asked Mark if his partner Artan Gjoni was also out. He replied that he hadn’t spoken to him in a few days: "He’s obviously upset surprised and as confused as I am."

Mark wanted to clarify that Ruben quit. I thought that was clear. It said it right up top, first paragraph: "We learn that main man Ruben Rivera has quit and moved over to W.i.P". This is a game of "he said, she said," and as I pointed out to Danae, if everyone would just stop talking to me, I would have nothing to say.

Mark Baker issued his own statement for publication:

Hi steve … After having this distress on my mind for 2 days now I want to respond..so "After reading the piece about XIX steve, I feel there are a couple of things that need to be clarified..I would never normally have this dialogue in a public forum as its just not necessary and usually gets misunderstood., but I have to address your piece as it was incomplete not entirely accurate and insinuated that ruben was kicked out of the deal..WRONG. To start with artan and I were asked to come in by the investor to revamp and relaunch the reataurant and club after a renovation. Artan and ruben to be the 2 lead owner-operators and me in supporting and marketing role…. This was to take place during january and re open for february..we were forming a partnership between us and the current owner was to step aside from operations .BUT , there was so much bad blood between ruben and the current owner dustin, we (artan and I ) tried to bring everyone together to work together , but the daily fights and mistrust between them was insane and apparantly irreparable, I advised ruben to take a break and come back energised and fresh so he could be the partner and operator he always wanted to be.. get his commission on the sale and own a piece of the venue, the attorneys were drawing up the contracts on dec 30th !! On jan 3rd ruben announced he was quiting and would pull the promoters out and sabotage the deal. I guess he just didn’t want to deal with the current owner anymore…he had had enough.. .Let’s be quite clear on THE FACTS… Ruben was NOT pushed out of the deal .. HE QUIT OF HIS OWN FREE WILL.. While we were drawing up a management contract for HIM,ARTAN and MYSELF… He walked away from it and was not cut out of anything.

The whole thing stinks and everyone looses.ruben expects everyone to quit also and walk away or everyone is" NOT LOYAL" .. The staff, the promoters artan me and everyone has to "quit" because ruben has.. I think its crazy as there is always a middle road and ruben for once could have owned his own place, albeit with partners.. Well..welcome to the real world of nitelife where everyone has to have partners.. And you have to work with them and compromise.. Everyone else has to anx does…. That’s life. "My way or the highway" doesn’t work. So EVERONE looses here, I have decided to step away from the deal also at this moment as its just too much drama.. And we don’t want to upset ruben do we.. That’s my piece…. How sad. Could have been great.

The space is still great and most of the players are as well. I suggest that a real-deal sit-down is in order when everyone can be gathered in the same hemisphere. Mark Baker is a gentleman, as is Artan. I have always found Ruben to be wonderful and more than capable. He was doing very well by any standards in a small basement lounge after the restaurant failed. He kept that place afloat and was anxious to continue with Mark and Artan running the restaurant above. Then, this implosion happened. Danae is a sweetheart and a great chef who isn’t the first operator to have a problem getting traction with a restaurant in NYC. We await her statement and are aware of the time differences. Mark Baker and I have been talking as he is getting up and I am crashing and vice versa. He’s swimming with dolphins while apparently some people want me swimming with fishes. Déjà vu all over again.

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