The Coral Gables City Commission last week approved a lease at 2325 Galiano St. for a restaurant "doing business as Monty's Coral Gables." After Short Order contacted a few people, though, the name changed.
"If you hadn't called, we would never have had this issue," said Lou Terminello, attorney for Bijan Nakhjavan, who's planning to open the place. "I'm going to blame it on you. That's the power of the press."
First a little history: Monty Trainer, a jovial guy with city hall connections, founded the stone crab restaurant decades ago. He sold it in 1986, a couple years before being convicted of federal tax evasion and heading off to prison. A South Beach location opened later. It's owned by businessman Steve Kneapler. He formerly owned the Coconut Grove location with Miami Mayor Diaz. They sold out in 2004.
Short Order got involved earlier this month after Mayor Donald Slesnick told us a Monty's would open in his city. We were curious. Any savvy diner would want to know how this new location would be affiliated with the venerable institution.
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So we got a copy of the lease and learned that a former Monty's employee, Bijan Nakhjavan, had proposed the Monty's Coral Gables concept. Then we contacted Louis Terminello, Nakhjavan's lawyer about rights for the name. "Kneapler has absolutely nothing to do with the new location," said Terminello. "I assumed since they were friends they worked it out."
Next we reached out to Kneapler. "There will be no Monty's in Coral Gables," a spokeswoman told us. "Bijan is not allowed to use the name Monty's."
This afternoon, Terminello sent the following email to the City of Coral Gables: "Bijan decided today to use the 'Monty's' type of seafood casual concept, but use the actual name 'Bijan's Key West Grill.' Please note the lease accordingly... The corporate name and the principals remain the same; Bijan just decided to use another d/b/a, that's all."
The updated lease is scheduled to be signed on Monday.