Popular tri-county restaurant entrepreneur David Mainiero, he of The Office in Delray Beach and Vic & Angelo’s in Palm Beach Gardens and BurgerFi in Fort Lauderdale, runs the restaurants like a criminal organization!
The allegation, and plenty more, are included in a scathing lawsuit just filed by Mainiero’s ex-business partners.
John Rosatti, the moneyman behind Mainiero’s ventures, and West Palm Beach investor Lee Goldberg accuse Mainiero of theft, taking kickbacks, bribery, fraud, embezzlement, money-laundering and extortion for more than $1 million!
Mainiero’s wife Lynn and son, David, are also named.
“We’re pretty upset about what they did,” Goldberg said.
Then why hasn’t Mainiero, who often spells wrongly his name Manero, been arrested?
“It’s not up to us to arrest people,” Goldberg said. “Authorities have been notified of what we found out.”
Mainiero, who mysteriously disappeared from the day-to-day operation of all the restaurants last month, was also the man behind the now-closed but once successful DeVito’s South Beach, the Italian eatery fronted by tiny big-screen actor Danny DeVito.
Palm Beach Gardens auto-dealer Rosatti claims in the lawsuit he was approached by Mainiero in 2005 about opening DeVito’s. For that, and all the other eateries, Mainiero needed a loan. Rosatti obliged. There’s no mention in the court file of the amount.
By 2010, however, it became apparent that Mainiero would be unable to pay back. Instead of raising a stink about it, Rosatti took over full ownership of the restaurants.
Then Mainiero, Rosatti and newbie Goldberg created another new concept of upscale, green hamburger restaurants, BurgerFi. They opened the beach-side joints in Delray in February 2010 and Fort Lauderdale in August 2010.
By December 2010, according to the lawsuit, Mainiero was allegedly helping himself to some of the cash going in and out of the restaurant chain.
In one example, Mainiero invoiced booze seller Southern Wine & Spirits of America $67,500 for marketing purposes, and allegedly received the cash – then attempted to hide it through personal transactions with two restaurant managers.
The lawsuit also cites allegations that David Mainiero received a 20-percent kickback from the real estate broker who proposed a lease for BurgerFi in Fort Lauderdale.
Another allegation centers on Mainiero Jr., who interned at BurgerFi before starting what Rosatti’s camp claims is a clone restaurant in Laguna Beach, Calif., originally named Urbun Burger.
To equip it, Rosatti also alleges, the elder Mianiero ordered $5,000 worth of equipment for BurgerFi from the West Palm Beach-based Cheney Brothers, then diverted it to the son’s Urbun.
When Rosatti discovered online about Urbun, he loaned another $250,000 to the elder Mainiero to re-name it BurgerFi. It’s still under construction.
David Mainiero Sr. didn’t return calls for comment. His lawyer, Robert Saraga, only said that Rosatti and Goldberg beat him to the punch in filing a lawsuit.