Cyrus closing in October
Published: Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 12, 2012 at 7:43 p.m.
Cyrus, the highly-rated Healdsburg restaurant, is vacating its spot in the Les Mars Hotel, culminating a legal battle that pitted the elite of fine dining and luxury hospitality against each other.
In a joint announcement Thursday, both sides said they had amicably resolved their differences and the owners of the Les Mars will take over the restaurant space in the building they both share.
In turn, Cyrus owners retain the naming rights to re-open somewhere else.
“I’m walking away with the name and the recipes. He owns the physical space now,” said Cyrus Chef Douglas Keane, referring to Les Mars owner Bill Foley.
“It’s a great feeling. Fighting’s not fun,” Keane said. “This is a good move for everyone.”
Keane, along with partner Nick Peyton, will keep Cyrus open through Oct. 31, when the Foley organization will take over the space and bring in another restaurant.
For the past six years, Cyrus has garnered a prestigious two-star Michelin rating — the only restaurant to achieve the distinction in Sonoma County — along with consistent praise from reviewers.
Foley, a wine mogul who made his fortune in the title company business, bought the 16-room Les Mars in 2010, where rooms cost $575 per night and up on summer weekends.
Keane, who had a 20-year lease on the restaurant space, complained last year that the new owners were trying to evict him unfairly from the building shared by the restaurant and hotel.
He filed a lawsuit against Foley’s company and managing member David Fink, who in turn countersued.
Keane said the problem was that he had declined an offer to help manage the hotel and provide room service, something the hotel desired. His lawsuit said the proposal would not have been profitable.
But all of that is over now with a deal for Foley to acquire the restaurant “assets,” which Keane said involves the tables, chairs and liquor license, “everything he needs to open a restaurant.”
Keane declined to comment on the financial terms.
“It’s a great move, a positive move,” is all he would say of the settlement. “It’s over and we’re happy.”
He said the 50 to 60 employees at Cyrus will hopefully remain until the restaurant closes, then be given some form of severance pay.
“This is the best crew in Northern California and Sonoma County and whoever gets them will be lucky,” he said.
Foley was vacationing in a remote part of Montana and unavailable for comment, according to Andrea Smalling, vice president of marketing for his company, Foley Family Wines.
“The plan is to open up something that is complimentary to the hotel. Beyond that there’s nothing specific,” she said of the restaurant space.
Foley, a West Point graduate and an attorney, made his fortune building the nation’s largest title insurance company, Fidelity National Title. He purchased his first title company in 1984 and quickly began adding other title companies. By 2003, his company was number 262 on the Fortune 500 list and generated more than $10 billion in annual revenue.
Foley entered the wine business in 1996 and now owns more than a dozen wine brands, including Chalk Hill and Sebastiani in Sonoma County.
He has residences in Montana and Sonoma County, including a mansion at Chalk Hill Winery.
Although published reports often refer to him as a billionaire, he claims he is not that wealthy, according to Smalling.
As for Keane, he insisted he has no plans at the moment other than to work with a dog rescue organization and will continue to manage the Healdsburg Bar and Grill.
But he acknowledged a likelihood that Cyrus will continue in another venue.
“We do have the option of opening another Cyrus if we want to,” he said, adding that it was important to keep the name.
“Obviously we kept it for a reason,” he said.
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