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Savory Owner Disputes Account of Restaurant Closure in Letter

Savory owner Paul Shoemaker says Point Dume Village owner Zan Marquis stated he wanted to close the restaurant days before issuing an eviction notice, changing the locks and calling the sheriff's department.

Savory owner Paul Shoemaker detailed the events leading up to the forced closure of his restaurant Friday in a letter to the Malibu City Council.

The sudden closure of Savory on Nov. 7 shook the Malibu community, which was still reeling from news that Point Pizza Malibu, which is located next to Savory, would be closing in December after the landlord opted not to renew the lease.

Shoemaker claims in the letter that Point Dume Village owner Zan Marquis stated he wanted to close the restaurant days before issuing an eviction notice, changing the locks and calling the sheriff's department.

Earlier this month, Marquis issued a statement expressing disappointment at the closure, and claiming that Shoemaker opted to close the restaurant because he had defaulted in his rent.

On Friday, Shoemaker disputed Marquis' assertions. Here is Shoemaker's letter:

Dear Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, Council Members and City Manager,

It is not my style to write letters like this. I do not typically respond to things that I believe to be false – especially when I believe that people should recognize the falsity without anyone having to come forward and make a challenge. Nonetheless, I have been bombarded with questions about the closing of Savory Restaurant and, therefore, find myself compelled to respond to the sham claims made by my landlord and putative partner, Zan Marquis.

As with many, I came to Malibu to make a home for my family.  Unlike Zan, I live in Malibu; my son attends school here; this is myhome. At the time I moved my family here, I was a very well respected chef, having recently earned my first Michelin star. Zan Marquis sought me out, claiming that he was turning the Point Dume Village into a world class shopping center, that I and my new restaurant would be a centerpiece of that vision, and that the restaurant would receive all the support it needed to succeed.  This was my first independent venture and, wide-eyed and hopeful, I believed the promises that were made and, foolishly, I thought of Zan as my friend who would look out for my benefit; sadly, I have come to recognize Zan as an opportunist, who looks out only for himself. 

Background

In the beginning, Zan forced Savory to open before the shopping center was ready. You might recall that the shopping center – especially in the parking lot in front of Savory’s entrance – had massive sewage and septic problems, causing atrocious smells and construction activity not conducive to an operating restaurant.  Also, despite contrary promises, the building itself was not ready for Savory, because Zan never upgraded the infrastructure, including worn out plumbing and electrical systems, which remain from the original construction and which caused significant problems, including recurring plumbing, sewage and power outages. Zan was to fix the problems. He picked and managed a contractor, but failed to oversee him. The contractor did not pay his subcontractors and did shoddy work; among other things, he drilled holes into the sewage venting system running inside the walls of Savory, and he failed to install flashing for the kitchen floor, resulting in water seepage up the walls that caused the sinks and associated piping to come loose from the walls. Worst of all, Zan ultimately refused to pay many of the costs to repair his building, forcing Savory’s to bear the expense.

Zan also meddled extensively in Savory’s business, involving himself in everything from interior design elements to inventory to staffing to hours of operation. Almost everything that Zan demanded injured the business. Worse, everything cost money – money that Zan promised to pay, but never did. 

Despite all of the above, Savory was flourishing. Savory was awarded Zagat’s Best Newcomer for 2012, identifying it as the best of almost 2400 new restaurants in Los Angeles, and was named one of the Top 10 best new restaurants in Los Angeles by Los Angeles Magazine. 

I was even named a semifinalist for the James Beard Pacific Region Best Chef award. Such feats for a restaurant located 22 miles north of Santa Monica are astonishing. More importantly, Savory was becoming profitable; its year over yearsales were up substantially and – despite the very cyclical nature of business in Malibu – Savory had gained a foothold both as a local gathering place and a tourist destination. Unfortunately, Savory suffered a major financial blow from the boycott of the Point Dume Village caused by Zan’s callous disregard for the neighborhood, his tenants and the City of Malibu. 

Zan’s Letter

Zan’s letter to the community – which he sent to you and posted on a sandwich board in front of Savory – blames me for closing Savory; however, the claim is false. In fact, prior to the end of October, Zan informed me that he wanted to close Savory, which was not what I or our other partners wanted. On October 30, 2012, I wrote Zan a letter as both a partner and landlord. My intention was to start a dialogue that would address the issues described above and allow Savory to remain open and viable. Zan’s response was to serve Savory with a three day eviction notice on November 5 and, while Savory was closed for Election Day, Zan grabbed the space, permanently closing Savory by changing the locks and calling the police to prevent me and the Savory staff from entering the restaurant. As a result, Savory could not wind down in any orderly fashion, and many vendors and others – including me – remain unpaid. Since closing, Zan has assailed us with letters from lawyers and, while much thought has been given to taking legal action to address Zan’s improper action, we do not have the money to fight; so, Zan’s bullying tactics likely will carry the day.

Zan’s letter wants to make it look as though he put substantial money into Savory, and that I somehow abdicated my responsibilities by becoming involved in a new downtown business venture. First, the money Zan references is a pittance compared to the millions of dollars Zan has told me he put into other restaurant ventures (particularly near Magic Mountain), all of which he told me have failed miserably; more to the point, money he has been required to put into the repair and renovation of his shopping center is not properly allocated to Savory. Second, Zan’s fixation on my being involved in opening a restaurant in downtown Los Angeles is misplaced. I am proud to say that I am opening a small burger bar in downtown Los Angeles. Of course, my burger bar would not have competed in any way with Savory and should have been something Zan appreciated as a measure of our success. In other words, he should have been proud that others had chosen to back me in a new, non-competitive venture. Instead, Zan viewed this and any otherventure as some sort of betrayal and abandonment of him, which is why I believe that he closed Savory.

Conclusion

I hope that this letter answers your and others’ questions about the closure of Savory. I am proud to call Malibu my home, and had hoped and expected that Zan’s promises to support a spectacular, Michelin star chef run restaurant fit for a first-class Malibu venue would prove true. No one worked harder to make that happen, and no one is more disappointed that Savory is closed. As I said before, the closing of Savory was one of the saddest days of my life; I love Malibu and everyone here, and will never forget this amazing experience. 

With gratitude and love,

Paul Shoemaker

In response, Marquis said the letter was an attempt to "thorw fuel" on the business dispute.

"When parties to an agreement or other relationship have a dispute, and one side consistently runs to the press or others to publicize his version of the story, rarely does that person tell the story in a manner that makes himself look like the one at fault. I intend to pursue this matter in the proper (hopefully private) forum, and wish Mr. Shoemaker well in his new venture," Marquis said.

Cece Stein November 18, 2012 at 03:17 AM
You are so right Bob - this "he say - she said" is just meant to promote more drama in this town which is why PATCH is often referred to as a reality show. Steve and I have been the subject of "he said - she said" here on PATCH - the PATCH format is FAR from journalism.
Cece Stein November 18, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Jonathan has a history of derogatory comments made with absolutely NO REGARD for FACTS. I have been privy to a private email that Jonathan wrote after leaving his post as the Malibu Patch editor in which he blatantly referred to Steve and attacked his character with unfounded and FALSE allegations. Journalism? I think NOT!
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 03:22 AM
against unsubstantiated rumors. A mob mentality with a rush to judgment could someday go against any one of us and next time it might be you I am "defending". I'm sorry that you don't like my opinions but I have tried not to be hasty at reaching them. Have a great weekend. Now, off to see "Lincoln".
Gary Peterson November 18, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Sorry Ryan, you're wrong, a couple of months before they closed, they had re-priced the Wolfburger at $30. If I recall correctly, it was priced less for lunch, somewhere between $18 and $22.00 But for dinner, it was $30.
Hans Laetz November 18, 2012 at 08:48 AM
An identifiable wrong is canceling that woman's lease and taking away her livelihood, on the flimsiest of stated pretext. Strange you cannot perceive that. You just watched Lincoln? Great film. Did he not have an ethical obligation to take away the until-then lawful property of the slaveholders? You can't see a parallel here, albeit of a far lesser magnitude? I did this exercise: Take Marquis' argument, and accept it at face value. Does it justify throwing Hye Song on the street? I conclude no, and that's a fair conclusion on a matter where I have all of Marquis' pleadings. I find it very insulting that you claim to have cornered truth, balance, lack of dogma and other virtue. You are entitled to your opinion. And me mine. My opinion is your nitrous oxide valve is leaking on this one.
Hans Laetz November 18, 2012 at 08:52 AM
Excuse me, but didn't you weigh in on this with a gigantic missive of your own on this? You would deride others doing the same?
Gary Peterson November 18, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Would someone make something clear here for me regarding Point Dume Pizza: Questions: 1. Within the body of the Lease, what was the Commencement Date and Termination Date of the Lease? 2. Were there any Options to Extend? If so, to what date was the Termination Date moved?
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Hans- I asked you that question so that I could merely get your opinion on the matter. After all, I voted for you because I thought you were a pretty logical and thoughtful guy. I don't have a clear position on it. As I stated earlier, I am torn by the Pt. Pizza thing (based on what I know) and I feel for Hye Song (and I rallied for her). The way I read your response was that you were feeling attacked when I just wanted some clarity. Your response became defensive and then you made a personal slur. I can take it, for sure, but does it really add to the discussion, and encourage people, less comfortable with being personally attacked, to voice (their) opinions? Do you even know my positions? Have I made any grand statements about guilt about either of the parties involved? I have made statements about prejudging and presumption and gossip, etc.. As I have stated before, after reading a ton of derogatory comments about Zan and his landlord(ship) at the Village, I did some research and found that a strong case could be made that Zan has done a lot of positive things to upgrade, and make more pleasant, that village. I personally spoke to more than half of the tenants. That doesn't excuse him of any "wrongs" as you see it with respect to Pt. Pizza, but it does offer some balance and it does show the "big picture". Please go back and read some of the vicious, personal, far reaching, comments made about Zan. Hans, based on
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Hans, based on the little that I know, it would appear that Zan was within his legal right to not renew the lease. Also, based on the little I know, it appears insensitive to not renew Hye Song's lease. He has a right to have any businesses he wants there, after all, he reportedly spent 45 million on it and invested another 10 million on upgrades (the Emily Shane fountain, etc..). Zan (may) have got this one wrong (Pt. Pizza), but I felt, in the middle of all of the one sided attacks, someone should say something positive about his contribution to what is a very nice place to spend an afternoon (imo). We all want to be judged on our full body of work and not just our stumblings. Hans, We can talk about the "Lincoln" movie in private as I have a lot of thoughts on it. respectfully...
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Hans said: "you claim to have cornered truth" Hans, I'll let you know when I have "cornered" truth. Don't hold your breath for me. It is a life's journey and it is very elusive. I don't have any secrets for how to acquire it except to remove passion and let (all) of the dust settle. "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." - Winston Churchill
Ann Tomkins November 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM
When public businesses close, I view that as a public matter not a private matter. Child custody matters are private to protect the children, not the adults. The closure of local businesses is a matter of concern to many in Malibu. If you don't care about why the business closed then don't read the article, but attacking Malibu Patch for printing the information is uncalled for. You seem to be the one confused about the difference between private and public matters.
Hans Laetz November 18, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Straw man alert. No one, nowhere, has claimed Zan Marquis is acting illegally, No one says he is acting outside his rights. He has every right to ruin this woman's life, wreck her business, change our communtiy character. Amusing that you will freely misrepresent the widespread conclusions and informed opinions of so many people, and then assume that you alone possess the cloak of impartiality, reason, and opposition to mob rule. Look, people in greater Point Dume have every good reason to be fed up to their gullets with Zan Marquis. He overdeveloped his property. He told neighbors he would buy land across PCH for employee parking, then reneged. He instructed tenants to have their employees park on surrounding streets, ruining the neighborhood and promoting neighbors to petition for parking permits. He spent millions to turn a functional neighborhood shopping center,into a trophy property, driving up rents and imposing on the neigthborhood something they did not necessarily want. Now, he evicts (another) beloved neighborhood institution, on the pretext of going organic. And when people point this out to you, they are "defensive. ... a mob mentality with a rush to judgment ... unsubstantiated rumors ... extremist ... using dogma." Your dogma ate your homework,.
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Ann- you make good points about the public's right to know what happens to a "public" business. The contract between the two parties is, though, a private issue. I think it should be handled delicately and I feel, in my opinion, that the Surfside News handled this issue in a more balanced, less inflammatory, way. Again, these are just my opinions. Disseminating the "news" is a high responsibility and I felt that the Patch could have done better on this one. Jessica has been a great custodian to the Patch but her judgment, as editor, is not beyond questioning and I think she would agree with that.
J. Flo November 18, 2012 at 06:47 PM
To get accurate info go to their Facebook page, they have made many statements. From there you can message them directly. Go to the source. https://www.facebook.com/PointPizzaMalibu?ref=ts&fref=ts
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Hans- Apparently I am not communicating my thoughts in a way that can be easily understood. I will go back and re-read my posts on this thread.
J. Flo November 18, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Thank you, Hans, for articulating facts and there are many more. If residents knew what else was going on, I can say with certainty there would be more outrage. A fact, this landlord weeks ago wrote a letter to City Hall and the City Council (and not his last BTW) and the press, then went on to erect that letter as a public billboard/large sign at the busiest center in this side of town smearing this tenant's reputation and spinning this dispute as it suits this management. Striking to note, not one word of outcry from the few on this page then, or when it was posted on the Patch Nov. 8th. Only now, with the clear necessity that this tenant respond. Any definition of "privacy" was LONG destroyed, another spin. This tenant is simply, responsibly upholding his hard earned reputation as any business must. To think that all of this very strange conjecture was prompted by this, is beyond comprehension. This thread is unreadable.
Hans Laetz November 18, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Bob, I can read, comprehend and use the English language with great precision. If we are reading your words and comprehending them in a way contrary to what you would wish, I would suggest the problem is not in our comprehension, it is with your words. I mean this in a kind manner, We all say something that appears in print different than we intended. And I thought the nitrous oxygen joke was a humorous leavening, nothing more. I always tell my Romney-loving longtime dentist: my mother taught me to never pick a fight with a man who has his sharp implements in your mouth.
Ann Tomkins November 18, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Bob- I read both the Malibu Times and Surfside News in addition to the Malibu Patch. While I like the more traditional newspaper format, I also appreciate the access to the original unfiltered source documentation that online news sources can provide. I understand that the letter that was posted was public information provided to the City Council. This type of information is often not easily accessible and I appreciate it when the Patch posts it online. To me there is great value in hearing the information directly from the source, even when the information is obviously only one side of the argument. While I agree with you that disseminating the "news" is a high responsibility, the distribution of public documents in a matter that has generated a high degree of community interest is not only highly appropriate but something that the Patch is uniquely qualified to do. I am far more suspicious of the filtered opinion of journalists than the publication of original source documentation. Finally, I think that you are mistaken about contracts being private. Generally, the contracts only remain private if they are undisputed and the parties choose to keep them private. Contracts related to land are often the least private because they may be recorded or provided to lenders or other third parties.
Charles Lee November 18, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Hello Bob, I am not sure where you get your information, but it is incorrect. It is a matter of public record that Zan purchased the property for $24 million and by his own statements made to the press, he has spent $4 million in improvements. Also, retail shopping center owners do not really pay for the full amount of capital improvements. They charge those costs to the tenants as part of CAM fees. The landlord only has to cover the portion of the vacant spaces since the fees are charged as a percentage based on the tenant's square footage.
J. Flo November 18, 2012 at 07:58 PM
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR, Charles. Facts from an actual tenant. What a concept. Please tell Hye Song that this community is still trying! We want her here!
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Anne- I understand many of your points. These are delicate issues that should be handled carefully by the journalistic community, as well as the public at large. This would make for a good "Round Table" discussion. Let's all meet at Hans' house tonight at 6:30. I hear he has such a round table. I"ll bring the pizza (Pt.)
Bob Perkins DDS November 18, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Charles- If your statements are true, then that points out the dangers of reporting "facts" without all of the facts. I was told those numbers. not from Zan but from who I thought was a very reliable source. This is the one statement that I made that I shouldn't have made because I (assumed) it was true without knowing. I am not above misstatements, either. If I am wrong on those numbers then I will accept that but the rest of my points stand by themselves. In getting those numbers wrong I did not impugn anyone. I will be even more careful not to state (anything), even numbers, that I cannot substantiate. Thanks for the opportunity to introspect on this.
Hans Laetz November 18, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Nope. Got a Marine and his girl and mom coming in tonight , old friends, I'm so proud of him. I will take you up on this after the holiday. I like anchovies.
hellwood November 19, 2012 at 01:10 AM
WOW! Bob Perkins is complaining about how the patch handles their biz. If you had any class whatsoever BOB, you would lose your self serving advertisement added to your name. Look around BOB. Nobody else on the patch feels the need to exploit the patch the way you do. Are you special Bob? You sure do act like it. You blow into town and get your nose into everything. FACT: This town was full of neighborhood friendly businesses for the better or worse, BUT it was real, and ZAN is FAKE. Maybe if you lose the DDS after your name, your business wont suffer the consequences of your short sighted and blathering comments?
Alexandra Rowinski November 19, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Paul was at Savory everyday. He worked harder than anyone. His place was in the kitchen where he created, tested and expanded his talents daily. He worked hard next to his line cooks and chef de cuisine because he thought of himself as part of the team.That's a true leader. As one of his former employees, I can say it was a privilege to work for someone who was so inspirational.
Terry November 19, 2012 at 04:47 PM
hope the new resturant is an american style dinner with moderate prices. dont care about a famous whatever. just want a nice place to eat that is affordable for malibu
R Y A N November 19, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Gary, again you cite the extreme: variable price for lunch, and expanded fare with dinner. You picked the higher price out of context. If the restaurant only served dinner, your 1/2-accurate statement would hold; alas, it doesn't. Please cut back on the hyperbole and rhetoric when discussing publicly-confirmable facts. It seems you're assigned to polarize the community and float damage-control for the shopping center owner.
R Y A N November 19, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Cece, Jonathan is a proven journalist. You are at best a blogger, or am I missing your credentials or professional experience? Perspective won't change these facts. If you think you're a competitor to Jonathan's journalistic integrity, you should respect your competitor and the profession, and cut the innuendo.
R Y A N November 19, 2012 at 06:07 PM
The shopping center is OK, if you find a parking place in the merry-go-round lot. The guard refused to let me use the restroom when asked, although I was definitely a clean-cut customer -- telling everyone to go through the Vons Pavilions stock room, up the stairs, and use their restroom. Subway's restroom was locked, and I didn't eat there, so that was inappropriate. At Cross Creek, they have water-free urinals and water-saving fixtures . . .
R Y A N November 19, 2012 at 06:22 PM
There can never be "affordable" prices with the time constraints of the sit-down restaurant space, the number of seats, and inadequate parking. If Subway is profitable, it is because of high-volume, just-in-time inventory for a limited menu, and likely part-time employees. Savory had the right mix for the space, and unfortunately, that also meant Malibu prices.

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