“I believe in the project of this restaurant,” Grasso concludes. “And I believe that I’m an individual that can gather enough individuals that believe in me and be positive enough that we can make something of this place.”

*     *     *

The Mor Project is still in existence, not as a managing company, but as an investor. Posniak still holds a stake in Blanca under the Mor group along with another managing partner.

Irezumi
Jonathan Ho
Irezumi
Robert Darvish, Irezumi investor now suing Posniak
Jennie Warren
Robert Darvish, Irezumi investor now suing Posniak

“I think Jeffrey is doing a fantastic job, and I don’t think right now there’s anything I can contribute other than advice when he needs it, help when he needs it. I think for this place to be successful, he needs the room to be able to navigate and run the operations that he does,” Posniak says.

Plans for the Rustic Vine, once set to open at the Irvine Spectrum, have been scrapped. Posniak says that, following Irezumi and Blanca, a decision was made to let go of projects that were unrealistic, and the Rustic Vine was one of them. Both Posniak and Garbutt are involved in pending litigation filed by the Irvine Co. in August for breach of contract.

Plans for Fleur de L’Age, which was set to open in Laguna Canyon, have been vacated as well, because of a landlord/tenant dispute with the prior occupant.

And it wasn’t until Norman Goodin, the landlord of the Mor Project’s original offices on Pacific Coast Highway in Newport, filed a lawsuit on April 30 for $4,001 in unpaid rent and late fees did Mor choose to vacate the premises—only to have the Mor Project end up paying $19,337.27 in damages (and $2,931 in attorney fees), according to court records. As for those 21 other cases, 10 are still pending, including: a collections case with the Ford Motor Credit Co.; Nathan and Posniak as defendants in a small-claims case with a Santa Monica-based escrow company; and Posniak as the plaintiff against Starwood Hotels.

The big question now for the Mor Project, Posniak and Garbutt is the issue of Revolver, a once-ambitious nightclub and mega venue set to take over the rundown Galaxy Theatre with big plans, big dreams and even a big design scheme—its interior was once going to revolve every six months, with themes such as addiction and the Bible. Rooms were going to be made into clouds, into heaven, into hell; there were going to be eight full-service bars and multiple VIP areas. But now all that has changed—the approach will be smaller, less grandiose, Posniak says. Many of the nameless former employees state that Revolver was the big project everyone wanted to be involved with, the one project that was going to make up for it all.

As for the ownership of Revolver, Posniak says he’s currently in the midst of a settlement discussion with Garbutt—each of them currently owns 33 percent of the business. “We’ll probably learn in the next few days what the result is. We’d like to move on. My intention is not to open Revolver to make a profit; it’s to settle all issues with employees and vendors, and hopefully, Brian Garbutt will be accommodating to that end.”

For his part, Garbutt says he’s “currently in works to disassociate any involvement with the Mor Project and the future development in the Galaxy Theatre. This disassociation should be resolved within a couple of weeks.”

The Irezumi and Rustic Vine lawsuits aren’t the only legal matters facing Posniak right now. Posniak has filed suit in LA County against his former SGM partner, Alan Nathan, with whom he parted ways after 15 years of working together, alleging contractual fraud. Hearings for the case are scheduled for early December.

When asked, Posniak now believes he’s no longer helping to change Orange County nightlife.

“No, not anymore,” he replies now, smiling. “I wanted to contribute creativity. I wanted to provide controversy. I wanted people to talk.”

He pauses.

“And I guess they are.”

vchang@ocweekly.com

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