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Nov 10, 2010 10:32 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Radu Physical Culture Tries To Rebound From Financial Troubles

Nov 10, 2010 10:32 AM

“BALANCE = PEACE” proclaims a motivational sign at Radu Physical Culture in Southampton Village. But conditions at the Hill Street gym are, at least at the moment, far more off kilter than the pithy phrase attributed to Radu Teodorescu, the gym’s owner, suggests.

A torrent of financial and legal woes has befallen the gym recently, including a warrant for eviction over tens of thousands of dollars in missed rent payments, a bankruptcy filing that stayed the eviction, and claims by former employees that Mr. Teodorescu—a celebrity fitness guru widely known by the mononym Radu—owes them for time worked over the past year. Save for part of one day, however, the workout space has remained open, with Mr. Teodorescu as its owner. And a group of investors is stepping in with the goal of whipping the gym back into sound financial shape.

George Semerjian, the landlord of the building at 33 Hill Street, confirmed last week that Mr. Teodorescu owes him money, though he declined to divulge the amount. According to Southampton Village Justice Court documents, Mr. Semerjian and Hill Street Mews LLC sought to evict Mr. Teodorescu from the property, and the court ruled in their favor on October 25, issuing a warrant for eviction and recovering $57,800 from Radu Physical Culture of New York LLC for rent dating back to October 1, 2009. Interest and various late, service, filing and legal fees pushed the total amount up to $62,660.

Then, just three days after the local court’s decision, on October 28, before the eviction was posted, Mr. Teodorescu, a resident of Scarsdale in Westchester County, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, effectively placing a stay on the eviction. Such a filing allows debtors to keep property and develop a plan to repay their debts, typically over three to five years. According to Mr. Teodorescu’s attorney, Donald David of Akerman Senterfitt LLP in Manhattan, Mr. Teodorescu is protected from claims of creditors who do not get judicial permission to proceed outside the bankruptcy court.

In late September, the Village Justice Court issued a judgment against Mr. Teodorescu after the defendant failed to appear in court. Mr. David said in a phone interview this week that Mr. Teodorescu had never received notice of the court date.

Meanwhile, the former general manager of the gym, Jason Hansana-Cofield of Southampton, said in a phone interview this week that Mr. Teodorescu owes more than $150,000 to 31 people who worked for him at the gym—“pretty much the whole staff”—and said at least three former employees have already won lawsuits against the owner, including a group fitness instructor, Natalia Poggi, who won a judgment for $8,000. Ms. Poggi declined to be interviewed; Mr. Carr said she is still working at the gym.

Mr. Teodorescu’s attorney, Mr. David, said some of the rent payments his client owed have since been paid, but he said he could not say how much. He also said, “It is our intent to fully compensate all of the employees. That is one of the reasons we are bringing in outside investors.” He declined to elaborate on who exactly the group includes. “The discussions are rather sensitive,” he said, adding that he was not at liberty to provide that information while the landlord issues remain unresolved.

At least two of the investors include Tommy Carr of New Jersey and Ross Franklin of Manhattan, who work in the fitness industry in the metropolitan area. Mr. Carr said he and Mr. Franklin are friends of Mr. Teodorescu and that he himself was the original investor who helped open the gym in Southampton in 2005, and that Mr. Franklin, a consultant, is involved with private equity groups with multiple high-end gyms throughout the tri-state area. The new investors hope to have a grand reopening of the gym in March 2011.

Radu Physical Culture currently has about 650 members, down from about 800 this summer, according to Mr. Carr.

Mr. Hansana-Cofield, the former manager, said he is owed more than $84,000 by Mr. Teodorescu and will have to sue him. He said he quit his position in late October after the bankruptcy filing. “When he filed for bankruptcy, that kind of showed me that he’s not trying to accommodate us at this point—he’s trying to take care of himself.”

But he later reversed course, saying, “Radu wasn’t purposely trying to not take care of the employees. He just had a tremendous amount of financial debt that was caving in on him from every direction.” Mr. Hansana-Cofield added that the financial troubles for Mr. Teodorescu seemed to snowball over the past two years, with investors promising to help but failing to follow through, leading to a cycle that led the owner to eventually remortgage two of his homes.

And although the former manager quit Radu—one of 29 who have left over the past year, by his count—he took possession of the lease on the building during the eviction process. Though he currently holds the lease, he said he does not plan to take over the business from Mr. Teodorescu.

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Sounds like someone dug themself a deep hole!!
By johnnyhampton (81), Southampton on Nov 10, 10 5:49 PM
No offense, Mr. Radu, I only work out 30 minutes a day, five days a week and eat at McDonald's regularly and I'm in better looking shape than you. I can bench press more too, and can hold my own on the elliptical. And I'm just an average Joe who doesn't own a gym or promotes a "lifestyle." You look like my crazy Uncle Joe who passes out watching the Lions after too much turkey on Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, Mr. Radu, substance is more important than style. Pay your bills!
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on Nov 12, 10 11:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
Radu is 137 years old
By razza5350 (1910), East Hampton on Nov 19, 10 2:21 PM
Ownership = Responsibility
Failure to pay Salaried Employees = Federal Labor Law Violation
Failure to pay Minimum Wage = Very Uncool
Trainer to the Stars = Stick it to the Locals
No Line of Credit to Pay Workers = Time to Close Shop
There are too many employers who take advantage of our hard working locals. These owners need to be charged for Labor Law violations, and before they get to play the bankruptcy card!
By allenfein (66), Southampton on Nov 13, 10 2:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Radu, Trainer to the Stars, still owes my medical office asst's son his hard earned summer wages, so this is not just another news item to me.
By allenfein (66), Southampton on Nov 14, 10 11:52 AM
1 member liked this comment
Terrible! He should not be able to have a business in town if he cannot pay his employees....these people really depend on the money...
I belonged to Radu years ago....I would never go back ...not worth it if he is not paying his employees...gym was ok...nothing you can't get anywhere else....
By KAYLEESH (10), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 14, 10 10:42 PM
I, too, was a member at Radu's Gym. I liked what Radu had created very much. The staff were very dedicated and I even liked Radu, though he was infrequently there when I was. So to now witness how his business has collapsed is disappointing to many, including me. I really hope that he is able to get everything fixed quickly. His business has the potential to provide many jobs to our community. Radu's place always felt very personable and welcoming.
By allenfein (66), Southampton on Nov 14, 10 11:32 PM
It is sad...it was a good gym...but if you don't pay your people...
I am sure they worked very hard and do not have the resources he has...
there are alot of fly by night co's out here..
.don't take advantage of hard working people...you lose respect from everyone.
By KAYLEESH (10), HAMPTON BAYS on Nov 14, 10 11:46 PM
...and don't forget that Radu welcomed into his gym - at no charge - our local fire and ambulance volunteers!
By allenfein (66), Southampton on Nov 15, 10 8:05 AM
Actually, Radu gets paid for a certain # of memberships for Fire Dept & a Certain # of memberships for Ambulance. He was also paid for village employees. The idea is that on any given day, the use does not exceed the number of memberships. Think of where he would be without this stipend from the local Government.
By Draggerman (924), Southampton on Nov 19, 10 10:49 AM
Actually, Radu does charge for fire and ambulance membership, granted at a greatly discounted rate.
By Uncle Fester (61), Southampton on Nov 15, 10 10:38 AM
balance=peace? no.

balanced checkbook=peace? yes.
By ghostofxmaspast (32), North Haven on Nov 17, 10 8:07 PM
Its a shame that people put up with someone like Ragu long enough for them to be owed a lot of money. Just because Ragu is famous, you know, from the sales of the family pasta sauce, doesn't mean he has cash. Lots of these folks, Ragu included, live well beyond their means.
By ghostofxmaspast (32), North Haven on Nov 17, 10 8:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
Sounds like Mr. Radu should shut down, pay his people, find another business.
Shouldn't you pay people of get out of the business if you know it is a failure???
Mr. Radu...how are you going to compete with the local gyms? I have been to every one of them you don't have anything different... and if you haven't made it by now...
Who is supporting this guy?
By 11968shlocal (22), southampton on Nov 18, 10 10:03 PM
Radu had a son who is now 17, he has never meet this child, in fact he owes him about $30,000 in back child support, which by law, is to be paid first above all other debts.....can someone please come forward with his whereabouts???
By hiddenchild (2), new york on Mar 7, 11 8:10 PM
also, would radu's sons like to meet their half brother???
By hiddenchild (2), new york on Mar 7, 11 8:12 PM
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