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Apr 4, 2016 5:00 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sloppy Tuna In Montauk Could Change Hands Over Ownership Feud

The Sloppy Tuna still had crowds early last fall. LAURA WEIR
Apr 5, 2016 2:03 PM

The Sloppy Tuna bar and restaurant in Montauk seems to be in limbo pending a court decision this week on who will run the popular summer hotspot.

As a result of a longstanding legal feud between Drew Doscher and Michael Meyer, who each own 50 percent of the business, a State Supreme Court judge last year appointed an intervener to review the company’s financial records. Now, Mr. Doscher’s attorney says an attempt is being made to take the business from his client.

Mr. Doscher took to Facebook last week stating that The Sloppy Tuna would not reopen this summer, at least not at its current location—the result, he said, of a recent court order that calls for the appointment of a temporary receiver, or business manager, to run it.

“The Sloppy Tuna as you and we know it will unfortunately not be opening at the same location in Montauk this summer,” The Sloppy Tuna’s Facebook page states. “It is with my deepest sorrow that so many employees and tourists from all over the world will never enjoy the true Sloppy Tuna Montauk again.” Mr. Doscher goes on to say that he expects to open The Sloppy Tuna at another location.

Hauppauge attorney Charles Russo is to be the court-appointed temporary receiver for the restaurant and bar, meaning that he will manage the business while Mr. Doscher and Mr. Meyer retain ownership.

Mr. Russo immediately refuted Mr. Doscher’s Facebook comments, saying last Thursday, March 31, that the business is set to open for the summer of 2016, and that it would open at its current location as The Sloppy Tuna. He called Mr. Doscher’s claims “completely erroneous” and is demanding that he remove the March 29 Facebook post, saying he will seek a finding of contempt of court.

Mr. Russo said in a March 30 letter to Mr. Doscher’s attorney, Michael Devereaux of Manhattan, that the post on The Sloppy Tuna’s Facebook page slandered him. It accused Mr. Russo of a backroom political deal with the judge in the case. Mr. Russo said Mr. Doscher had also interfered with the operation of the business, described as 148 South Emerson Associates, LLC, by claiming that it would not reopen.

“It’s our full intention to open on time and conduct business as usual,” Mr. Russo said last week, but he insisted that he would not be collecting the profits from the business.

The March 16 court order states that Mr. Doscher would be “restrained from participating in daily operations and financial management of, entering in contracts on behalf of, or entering the premises of the business, and shall be further restrained from interfering in any way with the court-appointed temporary receiver in his operation and management of the company.”

He would also have to “immediately surrender control over and access to the daily operations and financial management of 148 South Emerson Associates, LLC to the temporary receiver … including but not limited to any/all keys to the premises, financial books and records, all user names, passwords and account numbers connected to any/all bank accounts associated with the company … all tax records … employment agreements … and any other documents requested.”

Mr. Russo is seeking a cease-and-desist order on use of The Sloppy Tuna name, and his letter asked that the Facebook post—which, as of March 30, had been shared more than 500 times and had attracted nearly 1,000 comments—be removed immediately.

However, Mr. Devereaux defended Mr. Doscher on Thursday of last week, saying that a 40-year relationship between the judge, Jerry Gargiulo, and Mr. Russo was never disclosed. He said the move is an attempt to steal his client’s business. “I don’t understand it,” Mr. Devereaux said. “Businesses in Suffolk County should be in great fear.”

Receivership, Mr. Devereaux pointed out, is supposed to be used in cases where fraud is found in the operation of a business—and that was not the case with The Sloppy Tuna. “Appointing a receiver is drastic,” he said. “You have to show fraud or wrongdoing, but there was no fraud or wrongdoing of any kind.”

The court order to review the club’s finances was issued in February 2015, but, according to Mr. Devereaux, Mr. Russo eventually asked to take over the restaurant/bar, claiming that Mr. Doscher was uncooperative during the review process.

“Mr. Russo propounded hundreds of interrogatories to the business and then asserted non-cooperation to obtain total control of the business,” Mr. Devereaux said, adding that Mr. Russo will benefit from fees paid for operating the business, leaving little profit for its rightful owners. “The receiver will take all the money. It’s a very slick tactic.”

Mr. Meyer’s attorney, Michael Burrows of Manhattan, did not return calls seeking comment.

The parties were expected to meet in court in Riverhead on April 6, when the judge will decide if the receivership order should move forward. Mr. Devereaux said he has filed an appeal.

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In reading his Facebook post and rant it seems like he wants a monument in the middle of the village in his name. Taking all the credit for the popularity of Montauk??. Go cry me a river.
The ocean and montauk were here before him and will be here long after he leaves.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Mar 30, 16 1:09 PM
2 members liked this comment
Nobody runs a sleazy seaside bar better than a tax attorney.. that's a fact jack!
They certainly understand Assets if you know what I mean. The crowds will be chanting Drew Who? by summer's end. Free drink with every 1040 filed!
By harbor (411), East Hampton on Mar 30, 16 4:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigfresh (4590), north sea on Mar 30, 16 4:50 PM
2 members liked this comment
Plus It is not the Sloppy Tuna that brought the crowds, it is the location! So no matter where he puts it... It ain't gonna matter.
By DidiFrizell (1), on Mar 30, 16 4:55 PM
It's all irrelevant, the Montauk we all loved closed years ago. It's no longer the unhampton, full of people who came for the fish, the surf, the separation and the rustic scenery, and not the scene. Hipster paradise now
By louse pt. (143), springs on Mar 30, 16 5:52 PM
> "It's no longer the unhampton"

It never was -- that was a trademark of Sag Harbor in the mid-'70s.
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Mar 30, 16 7:28 PM
Good riddance! This place is everything that's wrong with the hamptons. The Sloppy Tuna is only good for the Sloppy Tuna...
By sparkhampton (27), Hampton Bays on Mar 30, 16 7:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
A more upscale establishment underscoring the location instead of the gstrings and booze, would be a much better fit. It would be a great location to have a nice lunch.
By North Sea Citizen (564), North Sea on Mar 31, 16 1:15 PM
Did you read what the owner said about the Montauk residents? He said Montauk can go back to be a boring town! Well many of us like what Montauk was before that garbage dump, Sloppy Tuna opened. They import all the trash from NYC and think they are keeping us going. Good Ridance and take all your hipster jerks with you! I hope a nice eating/drinking establishment opens there, not the zoo. Now if we can just deport the Manhattan element, we would be fine. JOIN MONTAUK UNITED!.
By mtkfish (59), montauk on Apr 4, 16 9:57 AM
1 member liked this comment
Well - Doscher is broken hearted for his employees. Are these the same employees who left garbage all over a beach in Montauk after their employee party and had to pay over $6,000 in fines for being such lazy drunken louts?As for crying in the beer for the poor "tourists from all over the world" who will miss out - how about a nice lobster roll lunch place and leave the noise pollution elsewhere? That would be a MUCH better representation of what Montauk means - not noise and inebriation - but ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 5:13 PM
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