The “Top Chef” couple with a pair of buzzy Miami restaurants say a quarter-million dollar lawsuit against them at their acclaimed New York restaurant is sure to be “thrown out of court.”
Chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis, alums of the Bravo TV chef cooking show, told the Miami Herald a lawsuit filed Tuesday that claims they “failed to account for over $286,500” at their New York restaurant Root & Bone, “is going to get tossed out.” Their landlord and partner, Richard Freedman, accuses the couple of fraud and diverting $136,000 from Root & Bone to renovate their apartment above the restaurant and using restaurant funds to pay $85,000 in rent, according to the suit.
“Janine and I are in great spirits because we know we haven’t done anything wrong,” McInnis said in a telephone interview. “We know this will get thrown out of court because we have nothing to hide. ... I look forward to getting the slate cleaned.”
McInnis, who co-founded the runaway hit Miami Beach restaurant Yardbird, opened the Sarsaparilla Club last year with his partner, Booth, to a 2 1/2 star (Good) Miami Herald review. They are collaborating on the upcoming Stiltsville Fish Bar, expected to open in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour this fall. The couple say neither Miami Beach restaurant will be affected by the New York lawsuit.
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The couple partnered with Freedman, who owns the building where McInnis and Booth (a life couple outside the restaurants) live and work. Freeman’s suit asserts, among other things, that McInnis and Booth wrongfully used the Root & Bone menu to do a pop up in Puerto Rico; that McInnis, as the restaurant’s sole manager, refused him access to the restaurant’s books, and that McInnis gave himself a $10,000 raise despite being “absent from the restaurant for months at a time.”
McInnis told the Herald he and Booth own the restaurant’s trademark and haven’t done anything outside the contract.
“It’s unfortunate,” McInnis said. “We helped this gentleman build out his building and make it beautiful.”