The Real Deal New York

Elad Group sued for $4M by ex manager of Plaza’s Todd English food court

Complaint says developer wrongfully terminated contract to prep for building’s sale

September 06, 2012 06:00PM
By Adam Pincus

Plaza Food Hall and Elad Group CEO Udi Erez

The former manager of the popular Plaza Food Hall by Todd English in the basement of the Plaza hotel says that the building’s majority owner, the Elad Group, owes it $3.8 million.

Brian Crawford, through his company TE Food Hall, filed the lawsuit yesterday in New York State Supreme Court, alleging that Elad ended the contract earlier this year, yet still uses the Todd English name and Crawford’s credit. The agreement was severed in preparation for Elad’s planned sale of its 60 percent interest in the property to the India-based Sahara Group for $400 million. 

The complaint said Elad had the right to end the contract after four years, but that Elad chose to do so just two years after the venue opened in May 2010, at the hotel located at 1 West 59th Street. Crawford signed a new agreement with Elad terminating the management contract. But he alleges that Elad has not paid him money owed, including money Crawford would have earned had the contract with nearly 10 years remaining on it not been terminated.

Celebrity chef Todd English was not involved in the management or operations of the food hall; rather, he had “essentially” licensed his name to Crawford’s company, according to the lawsuit. English is not a party to the lawsuit.

The alleged breach of contract “has caused actual damages and damages to Mr. Crawford’s personal credibility and ability to continue to work in the restaurant industry in New York City,” the filing said. “Mr. Crawford continues to be contacted by creditors who are demanding that such sums be paid by Mr. Crawford personally.”

Crawford is asking the court to reverse the termination and restore his company to its management position, the papers said.

“We will fight aggressively and zealously to enforce the rights we believe that our client is entitled to,” Crawford’s lawyer, Kevin O’Donoghue, a partner at the law firm Helbraun Levey & O’Donoghue, said. He declined to comment further.

A spokesperson for Elad said the company had not yet been served with the complaint, but also said it was its policy not to comment on ongoing litigation. A call to English was not immediately returned.

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