When a new restaurant opens, I usually want to know all about the chef, not the owner.
But I've been curious about ownership of Prime Steakhouse, which opens Friday in the location once occupied by Timothy Dean Bistro and TD Lounge, because chef Timothy Dean has made a point of saying he's not part of it.
"I have chosen to remove myself as executive Chef and Owner in order to become a consultant for Prime Steakhouse," Dean said in a news release.
In separate interviews, Dean and the restaurant's office manager both declined to identify the owners. All Dean would say was, "It's a group of investors who don't want to be disclosed."
Well, there are personal wants and then there's the law. If you own a restaurant that serves liquor, your name is on file with the Liquor Board. And for Prime Steakhouse, the owner listed on that public record is none other than Timothy Dean.
Dean's contention that he does not own Prime Steakhouse came as a surprise to the city Liquor Board, which was alerted to the chef's comments posted on this blog yesterday.
The board has contacted Dean's lawyer and sent the chef a letter asking him to disclose who owns the restaurant if he doesn't, board Chairman Steve Fogleman told me this afternoon. In board records, Dean is the liquor licensee, Fogleman said.
"If there's a liquor license, you have to disclose the ownership," Fogleman said.
And there's no hiding behind one of those sneaky LLCs. "That can include disclosure of limited liability agreements," Fogleman said.
If Dean has sold the business to someone else, the liquor board has to approve the transfer of the liquor license, Fogleman said.
"We've been in contact with his lawyer and we sent him a letter that if he's transferring a license, a proper application has to be filed," he said.
I could not immediately reach Dean and his lawyer, Peter Prevas. I'll update this post when I hear from them.
Dean has had problems with previous businesses. Just a year ago, a judge ordered him to pay $10,801.70 to Carey Sales & Services, a restaurant supply company.
Lots of restaurants have had trouble in this economy. But the chef's statements about Prime Steakhouse's ownership are creating problems for his new venture even before it opens its doors.
Baltimore Sun file photo