Giovanni Apollo will have his day in court. On January 7 the blustery chef laughed off suggestions that he had sold his four Montreal restaurants and was in financial difficulty: "Belle rumeur montréalaise hahahahah. Ça ne vous regarde en rien je pense." La Presse reports, however, that the rotund restaurateur did in fact sell his restaurants (Café des éclusiers, La Buvette par Apollo, Apollo Express Café, Bistro Apollo Concept) to a former partner, chef Daren Bergeron (Decca 77, Newtown), and controversial Toronto businessman Dean Topolinski for $1,245,000 last May. Some nine months later, Apollo has lawyered up.
In his blockbuster lawsuit, the host of Apollo dans l'frigo alleges that the new owners removed property, equipment, inventory and furniture from three of the restaurants the week of January 18. A fourth restaurant, Bistro Apollo Concept in Little Italy, is closed. The lawsuit claims that Bergeron and Topolinski have diminished the value of assets on which Apollo holds a $1.5 million mortgage and seeks payment of $1.2 million for the balance of the transaction.
"They emptied the restaurants, which they had no right to do, and when I ask questions, they tell me nothing. And they have not paid me for a long time. If they were in the street, OK, I understand, but the restaurants are busy and don't lack customers," insists Apollo to La Presse.
For his part, Bergeron tells the newspaper that he now has to halt the relaunch of several restaurants in a very difficult economic climate: "I'm now obligated to temporarily stop operations, but organizational changes, they happen every day!"
This is the scene (as of April 1, 2015) outside Bistro Apollo Concept in Little Italy.