Five years after a change in ownership at Galatoire’s, one of the city’s most venerable eateries, a company formed by its former suitors is suing the restaurant and its current owners for breach of contract.
The suit was filed in Civil District Court on behalf of Bourbon Investments LLC and 209 Realty LLC, two companies run by businessmen Terry White and Danny Conwill. White had submitted an offer to buy Galatoire’s Restaurant and its building at 209 Bourbon St. from its family owners in 2009. Instead, an investor group called New Orleans Equity bought the business and the property.
The suit challenges the legitimacy of that sale and seeks either to have White’s deal enforced, essentially overturning the sale to New Orleans Equity, or to grant an unspecified amount of monetary damages, to be assessed at trial. John Georges, an owner of Galatoire’s, is publisher of The Advocate.
The suit claims the defendants “unjustly enriched themselves” by modifying the contract to sell the restaurant from the terms that family owners were originally presented under White’s offer.
It alleges the buyers made “material differences between the two transactions” by canceling a lease on the Galatoire’s property; forgiving a debt owed by Galatoire’s President Melvin Rodrigue from his role in the restaurant’s Baton Rouge spinoff, Galatoire’s Bistro, itself the subject of earlier litigation; and allowing the early distribution of $500,000 held in escrow.
An attorney who filed the suit for Bourbon Investments and 209 Realty would not comment on the suit.
In a written statement, Galatoire’s said the company doesn’t comment on pending legal matters. However, the statement went on to characterize the suit as “the second attempt” by Conwill and White “to own a stake in this successful business and New Orleans dining institution in opposition to members of the Galatoire family.”
“The first attempt failed five years ago,” the statement continued. “Now they are trying again to insert themselves into a business begun 108 years ago by Jean Galatoire and then operated successfully for generations by Jean’s nephews and their sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, great-grandsons and great-granddaughters.”