In a lawsuit filed yesterday in New York Supreme Court, Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth were sued by Root & Bone partner Richard Freedman for "spending proceeds on a $135,000 apartment renovation and side projects like a Puerto Rico pop-up," according to the New York Post. The lawsuit, posted by Eater New York, alleges that "overall, McInnis and Booth have failed to account for over $286,500.00 in cash distributions since the inception."
The lawsuit also states that "Mr. Freedman has demanded that McInnis step down as manager and account for his misappropriation and misuse of Company funds and assets, but McInnis has failed and refused to take any action to remedy his wrongful conduct. "
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According to the 16-page document, McInnis, Booth, and Freedman each hold 150 member units in the LLC formed in September 2013 to operate the New York City restaurant that created a buzz for its lemon tea-brined fried chicken in honey.
New Times reached out to McInnis for comment. The chef wouldn't answer specific questions but issued the following statement:
It's unfortunate that Mr. Freedman has been misinformed by his bookkeeper on the subject. There is no validation to this lawsuit whatsoever.
We renovated the upstairs apartment through our own funding. Mr. Freedman owns the entire building and has benefited from the improvements to his upgraded apartment and renovated restaurant space from my and Janine's investments to his building.
Mr. Freedman has had access to the books from the beginning and we've offered to walk him through with any of his questions. We are certain once his team is updated with clarification the lawsuit will disappear.
As for Root & Bone (a company trademarked and owned by myself and Janine only) we are very proud of our successful 3+ years in the Big Apple and look forward to many more.
McInnis and Booth are Top Chef alumni and partners in Sarsaparilla Club in Miami Beach. They are set to open Stiltsville in Sunset Harbour. According to a spokesperson for the chefs, this lawsuit does not affect the couple's Miami Beach projects.