"Luckily, I've never had a failure," Warner LeRoy said just before he opened the Potomac restaurant here. But LeRoy, who's been through a number of lawsuits and the bankruptcy of a San Francisco restaurant he opened, has had his share of problems.
LeRoy, optimistic even in the face of Potomac's closing Oct 26., opened a San Francisco branch of his Maxwell's Plum restaurant in 1981 with Potomac-like fanfare. The San Francisco restaurant was almost immediately beset by losses, union problems and lawsuits by vendors and construction companies.
The restaurant filed for protection under bankruptcy laws in 1983 and is operating under new management while reorganizing.
LeRoy claims that the failure of the San Francisco restaurant was the fault of Hardwicke Cos. Inc., his former partner in New York's Maxwell's Plum and Tavern on the Green. While the San Francisco restaurant was his creation, "after it opened, it was their responsibility to operate it," LeRoy said of Hardwicke, which eventually went bankrupt and no longer exists.
However, LeRoy told the San Francisco Examiner in 1981 that although the restaurant was owned by Hardwicke, "I'm in charge of the operation."
LeRoy's Tavern on the Green in New York has recently experienced labor unrest, which he characterizes as "minor."
Members of Local 424, an independent union, have distributed leaflets complaining of schedule changes that resulted in pay cuts of up to one-third for some staff members.
LeRoy has said the schedule changes were made to prevent employe turnover. "The reason turnover is so great is because of the way people are treated," said one employe, who asked not to be identified.
At Potomac, sources said, employe turnover was extremely high. The local unit of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union had attempted to organize Potomac employes, but labor attorneys were brought in by LeRoy to deter the efforts, according to Ron Richardson, chief officer of the union local.
LeRoy said he hired a labor attorney "just to be sure we didn't run afoul of local labor laws."