Amid all the hubbub about takeovers and, now, a $1.2 million lawsuit, Giovanni Apollo's former restaurants have been conspicuously silent. Until a few days ago, that is, when Bistro Apollo posted this brief statement (translated):
We would like to inform you of the temporary closure of Bistro Apollo after a decision by management to restructure until the month of March 2015. Thank you for your comprehension.
A distressed commenter wrote this reply: "Will Claude Le Bayon still be the chef? If not, I will not return. I will follow the chef wherever he goes."
Meanwhile, it turns out that Dean Topolinski, the man La Presse places at the heart of Apollo's lawsuit, along with chef Daren Bergeron, is no stranger to controversy. The businessman was the target of a lawsuit in 2013 that accused him and Montreal girlfriend Julie Charbonneau of arson and insurance fraud over the loss of a $5.2 million, 22,000 square foot historic mansion outside of Philadelphia. It was later ruled an accident.
In a related case, it was alleged that Topolinski siphoned money from an ailing business in New Jersey and fleeced "hundreds of employees." One of those employees told a reporter: "At this point, I just want to see him in jail. He hurt a lot of people." Going back to 2009, the Toronto Star wrote that Topolinski "used a small auto-parts maker in Wallaceburg [Ontario] to shut down Chrysler Canada." A federal judge described Topolinski’s "tactics as an attempt to hold the auto industry ‘hostage’ for more money."