Legal Drama

Southern Goods chef sues business partner, but plans for new neighborhood restaurant continue

Chef sues business partner, but plans for new restaurant continue

Southern Goods exterior
Southern Goods is embroiled in a legal drama. Photo by Eric Sandler

All is not well between Southern Goods chef-owner Lyle Bento and his business partner Charles Bishop. On October 10, Bento filed a lawsuit against Bishop seeking more than $100,000 in damages, alleging that Bishop is liable for breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, and breach of contract.

In his original petition, Bento makes a number of accusations against Bishop, including that he "has routinely utilized company funds for Bishop's personal use . . . (without) authority or permission" and that he has "routinely utilized company funds for the benefit of Bishop's other business ventures." In addition, the document states that Bishop has brought on additional investors without Bento's permission.

If he wins the suit, Bento is seeking to be reimbursed for the money Bishop improperly used, "exemplary damages," and related court costs and attorney fees.

Reached by phone, Bento declined to comment about his lawsuit. When contacted by CultureMap, Bishop seemed surprised but had a few things to say. 

"I haven’t been served with anything," Bishop tells CultureMap. "I don’t know anything. I know anything that’s come through Southern is all legit."

Bishop did acknowledge that he and Bento are no longer working together on 60 Pioneers, the "casual and comfortable" neighborhood restaurant that the duo had planned to open together at the former Java Java Cafe on 11th Street.

"I got him off the LLC. I got him off the lease," Bishop says. "He’s not on the lease. He’s not on the LLC. He’s not on that project. That’s his choice."

Bishop says he's still moving forward with the project.

"Anything else, it’s a matter of I know for a fact that anything that’s gone through Southern is all good. Anything that’s been paid has gone through accounting you can trace," Bishop says.

A hearing has been set for October 17 to determine whether Bento will be granted a temporary restraining order to restrict Bishop's access to company funds pending the outcome of a trial or settlement.