All Greek to Me

Does Cusina Owner Really Have a Legal Case?

Comments

1
Thanks! I asked for this story in Blogtown comments. Very interesting!
2
Sad to see it go -- but if it's clearly in violation of the fire code, I suppose it's for the best. What are the chances of it reopening again?
3
"...without any written rules or oversight, randomly picks downtown businesses and inspects them for building and fire-code violations."

No written rules? Aren't they enforcing the building and fire code?
4
"Papas has shelled out $232,619"

Huh?...Ted NEVER paid for the fire watch...thus the $200,000 lien the city put on the building for the security costs they fronted. Ted is right...he was treated differently, I know of no other business that this city has provided $200K to keep the building open and safe. Ted also NEVER paid the security companies that he hired the $32,000 he owes them.

Ted is out of business because his decades of shady dealings and unscrupulous business practices have finally caught up to him. He has NO CASE. Its easy and free to claim you will sue, but his ridiculous whining will never see the inside of a courtroom.
5
ivorreve--

Although there are written rules and fire codes, the fire department has tremendous discretionary leeway in applying those rules. I have first hand experience with their inspectors, and they vary wildly in their training and application of the codes.

To me the real issue is what were those 50+ violations and how/why/what was done to attempt to remedy them. The idea that someone needs to be paid to sit and watch to make sure the building doesn't burn down--ludicrous!
6
I initially imagined an over zealous Saganaki watch, but it seems much more reasonable, looking at the details. That bit about how Wackenhut got paid is rather important to get correct, so please refute or correct!
7
@ivorreve - I think her grammer is meant to convey that there are no rules over which businesses get targeted for the HIT teams' random inspections.

@Hitman and @Zarathustra - I don't understand your point. So what if he hasn't paid them yet? If someone sent me a bill for $232,00, I couldn't pay it either. Could you? Does that make YOU a deadbeat? Those fines are still the reason he had to shut down. The city hasn't "fronted him the money," they just haven't been able to collect yet. Your logic is wacky! When you get a speeding ticket, and you pay it a month later, does that mean the city "fronted you the money" for a month? How nice of them to give you that loan!
8
First they came for Chinatown... and I did not speak out.

Then they came for the hip-hop clubs... and I did not speak out.

Then they came for the homeless... and I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Greeks... and I did not speak out.

Then they came for...?

Keep it up SAMDY (Sam + Randy), soon enough you will have buttered that stale piece of white bread you call a downtown.
9
Didn't Papas try and prevent the food carts from having their space downtown?

If so, then he can SUCK IT. Bring your place up to code like, um, OH YEA, every other restaurant in town.

Plus your place was made of douchebags and crappy food. Eat a Dolma full of dicks, Papas.
10
Ted Papas was wronged by Randy Leonard. Thats the guy who should pay the damages on the lawsuit. This is a major problem with Portland and lack of small business support. Small business is overtaxed and than fined, forced to close in debt, with no one at City Hall to advocate or fight for them.
I have been a small business owner most of my life and never once been supported by anyone in City Hall or small business community. I've done it all on my own, like most Portland small business. Corporations get the red carpet treatment with tax breaks and incentives to come here and set up shop.

Interesting to note, Leonard after discovery his Fire Marshalls were on the take and getting "kick backs" from Greek Cuisina, He had to attack Papas to cover up the corruption. I respect Portland Fire, just pointing out what happen.
11
Ted Papas was wronged by Randy Leonard? Ted Papas attacked small business in Portland because his larger business wasn't making as much money due to increased and higher quality competition from the little guys. Because of that he tried to run small businesses out of town and made no friends doing it.

Ted Papas was a thug. There are plenty of complaints from past employees about his physical assaults and verbal rants at employees. He ran a nightclub for the biggest lowlifes in town, his employees let minors in the door frequently, and on top of that he remodeled his nightclub in a way that if there had been a fire probably would have killed everyone inside. Past employees have told stories about exposed wires, fire exits blocked, hallways used as storage areas.

Ted Papas deserved every single thing he got. You may not like Randy Leonard but there is no standing up for Ted Papas. That's a fact.
12
What's this about a patron being beaten unconscious by GC body guards, only for that case to be dismissed later in court?

And yes, upon 1st glance Lenard's "HIT" squad does have the appearance of being [almost] gestapo-like. BUT... if this Papas guy really did try & shut down food carts then fuck him!

Anyways, does anyone have a list of businesses that have been "targeted" by this HIT squad, other then a dt porn shop & greek restaurant?
13
The "trailer epidemic" Papas calls it... http://www.portlandmercury.com/news/no-fre…

The HIT squad targeted the Grove Hotel, forced the owner to sell to the city and then turned the building over to HAP. Here are the conditions inside the Grove. http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.…

And HAP's renovations. http://www.hapdx.org/development/pdfs/fact…

They also closed Westport Villa. The owner of that place was a real peach. I think slumlord might be too nice of a word. http://wweek.com/editorial/3031/5162/

There were 2 other single occupancy hotels that were in similar condition to The Grove that were shut down. There was also a after hours club called The Mansion. I can't find their code violations, but after going there for a show I can assure you I've helped clean up crack houses in better condition than that place.
14
People keep saying in this thread that Papas tried to shut down all the food carts. Here's the actual quote, from the Mercury article:

"I'm against building food carts in private lots that don't comply with the same rules restaurants have," he told some 50 restaurateurs. "I like competition. I love it. But I want it on the same level."

Does that seem so crazy? It's not like he was out shooting them, he was just saying they go through the same process that brick-and-mortar stores do. Ooo, he's a nazi! Get him!

Before you open a business, you take a look around at your competition, right? You probably don't open a mexican restaurant right next door to three other mexican restaurants, for example. Then you have to get permission from the city, and pay a bunch of fees. So you do all that, and then a dozen food carts spring up right outside your door, in spaces that were NOT zoned or supposed to be available for other restaurants, and I can see how that would seem like unfair competition.
15
Papas had been in business longer than most of the nut-hole readers of the Mercury have been alive, let alone lived in Portland. In fact, he had been in business longer than this paper's existence!

The food carts, the food carts, my precious food carts....cry me a river already.

Reymont has it right, Papas simply was complaining about what he saw as an unfair advantage these new establishments were being given. I'd be willing to bet that Papas is hardly alone in that opinion among other restaurant owners trying to scratch out a living downtown.

Jesus, if you want to talk about unlicensed remodels, take a gander at what some of these carts have set up. There's some pretty sketchy structures attached to some of them, let alone the electrical/gas/water hook ups. I'll admit Papas is at fault for doing the work illegally, but you're naive to think that he's the only business owner (or home owner for that matter) that has done that sort of thing before.

And don't even get me started on the health and sanitation issues associated with many carts. Take a stroll along the strip of carts late at night to witness many a rat rummaging amongst their cavities.

Finally, to those who want to say that Papas is a bully and an asshole to his employees. Jeepers, have any of you ever had a job, let alone worked in the service industry? Hello....Hell's Kitchen anyone? Being a dick is hardly illegal, but it surely doesn't win you any friends. Papas was targeted, I hope his lawyer hands Randy his colon for lunch.




16
@zipitup

Being a bully and asshole is one thing. Physically assaulting employees is another. You don't see Gordon Ramsey choking anyone out, which is one of the physical assaults past employees have witnessed.

It's not so much the remodeling job Papas did on his own place that got him in trouble. If you have as many incidents with the Police as his nightclub had eventually someone is going to have to deal with the issue. Papas wasn't dealing with the issues. Have you ever been upstairs? If a fire started in that place nobody would get out. Please go to Google, type "Great White concert" and "fire." You'll see what I'm talking about when you combine no egress with a fast moving fire.

They didn't nail Capone for bootlegging. Papas ran a shady business and they nailed him on illegally modifying his building. Karmas a bitch sometimes.
17
BlackedOut:

Yeah, yeah, we've all heard the "rumors" about his "assaulting" personality. However, I yet to see anyone provide details of the incident, nor could I find anything in several google searches. I would think that an employee assaulted at work in front of others would have filed a lawsuit. The Mercury made no mention of this in their article, nor did the WW, so I'm left to conclude this it's just that, a rumor. I'm not here to defend Papas' integrity, but I tend not to pass judgment based on gossip. Call me crazy.

And yes, I've been upstairs several times. What can I say, it's an old building, perhaps a fire would end in tragedy. However, there are many old buildings in town that the very same could could be said. The Shanghai Tunnel or The Roseland jump to mind. So, your attempt to persuade me by using fear has failed.

If you're so concerned with "shady" dealings, I suggest you start by looking at our City Council.

18
@zipitup

Actually there are verifiable aspects of the Greek Cusina's redesign that make it more dangerous. Exposed electrical wires etc...

The Roseland has plenty of egress. I've seen an evacuation there first hand. I'll agree with you about Shanghai, but Shanghai doesn't have a bunch of exposed electrical wires and the police don't get called to go to the Shanghai constantly to break up fights between people who spent the evening doing coke in the bathroom and buying Ouzo.

You're trying to defend a total douche nozzle like Ted Papas. Why? He ran a business that was a financial drain on this city and then finally had to pay for it. Tough shit. Don't run a douchebag bar where the cops constantly have to be called all the time and take responsibility for your own shit. Papas never did any of that. For years he tried to let the city clean up the messes he made. The city finally nailed his ass to the wall for being a bad business owner. Why are you defending him?
19
Can anyone explain why Ted Papas didn't work with the city to get his building brought back in line with fire code? I really don't understand why he went this long without fixing the problems. Seems like a relatively simple issue.
20
A few years ago Papas attempted to legally eradicate downtown food carts, an attempt to remove his biggest competitor for lunchtime business. He didn't succeed, obviously (since then the carts have blossomed in to a beloved subculture and uniquely portland phenom).
The man is not just "feisty" -- he's kind of a jerk in denial of his own faults.
21
A good friend of mine told me that Greek Cusinas' food kinda sucked anyways. Might anyone else attest to this? I've only eaten there once, myself.
22
Food was marginal, but singling out one business for a "hit" is definitely mafia tactics and should be questioned on its face.

Of course don't count on the courts for justice, they are just another wing of the out of control government
23
re: "Papas is a thug", Randy Leonard has been the "thug". You think Cuisina is the only harassment from the Squad or COP? How about Sho Dozono with Bush Gardens? Sho, a great pioneer of downtown business and advocate for the city was given no relief for property taxes or the fact COP had the streets tore up around him for years.
Why didnt the city offer a micro loan to assist a long standing business owner? Instead of filing a lien? The mentality of beating up on a small business owner is "ok" and "deserved" is messed up. Not only is the City not supportive and advocate for small business downtown but the critics from citizens back the harassment and justify the means to evict them??
People have no idea what it takes to run a small business. Completely clueless, more or less a restaurant or night club. Its complicated with lots of problems and problem people. Its not fair or reasonable for outsiders to put the blame all on the owner when we are suppose to be a community. Papas may have made some errors, so what? thats what is called a GNP (Good Neighbor Plan or agreement). Both sides make improvements.
Downtown, the shop owners are on their own, left out to dry. Then we hear elected officials ask, "well, what happen to Downtown business?"
Any wonder why downtown is bankrupt and void of most local small business shops? Well, take a walk downtown and think about things a little bit. I remember a much different downtown 15 years ago.
24
@"You're trying to defend a total douche nozzle like Ted Papas. Why? He ran a business that was a financial drain on this city and then finally had to pay for it. Tough shit. Don't run a douchebag bar where the cops constantly have to be called all the time and take responsibility for your own shit. Papas never did any of that. For years he tried to let the city clean up the messes he made. The city finally nailed his ass to the wall for being a bad business owner. Why are you defending him?"
Why are you so hell bent and personal on taking Papas out? You have slander, libel, character assaults here like you know him or something? Randy Leonard is this you? blogging on city time?


The critics on this thread state that Papas assaulted his employees and yelled at them. Holy fuck, thats what happens in the business when "you try to take care of your own shit." You want to kick him for police calls and kick him for disciplining his own staff.

Leonard is the douche bag, and anyone at City Hall who supports or advocates this kind of treatment towards any small business owner could be called one as well.

Your demonization of Papas still doesnt justify the means of mafia tactics endorsed from City Hall. The police union BS and the "Leonard Squad" make Portland a bad episode of the Sopranos.

How much taxes do you think Papas paid to the COP, state , Feds? any idea? more money than you will ever see in a lifetime. not sure how thats a drain on the city funds?
25
You should print a correction on these two points:

"Made up of police officers and fire and building inspectors, the HIT Squad, without any written rules or oversight, RANDOMLY picks downtown businesses and inspects them for building and fire-code violations."

I think you mean SELECTIVELY, not RANDOMLY. By using the word "randomly," you make it sound like the city spins a roulette wheel in deciding whom to enforce against.

"To pay for the inspection costs, Papas has shelled out $232,619, in addition to $14,834 for building code violation fines."

Do you have any proof of this? I believe this is the amount that Papas OWES, not the amount that he has paid.

Your reporters need to do better research and choose their words more carefully. When you make big mistakes like this, it undermines your credibility.
26
@ABS: "Sho Dozono with Bush Gardens? Sho, a great pioneer of downtown business and advocate for the city was given no relief for property taxes or the fact COP had the streets tore up around him for years."

Sho got a break on his RENT when the building next to him was under [active] construction. He continued to pay $0 in property taxes on it, because he doesn't own it in the first place. Most of us don't get squat when the building next to us is under construction, do you think I'll be able to go to the bank and get them to reduce my mortgage payments because someone is building a new house next to mine? No, not at all. He didn't even ask for it, they offered it. Instead of paying the new lower amount, he just stopped paying the rent completely. Now there are ways to legally not pay your rent: For instance, if the landlord refuses to keep the building in safe condition you can hire someone to fix the building yourself and deduct the costs off your rent. Likewise, if you disagree about how much your rent should be, you can just pay what you think you should pay as long and you put the difference in the escrow account while you negotiate with the landlord. All of those involve a lot of paperwork/certified letters/etc, (so that they don't just evict you for non-payment,) but it can be done. He didn't do any of those: there weren't any safety problems with the building, (or at least, if there were, he didn't say anything about them or get them fixed,) nor was he in any negotiations, nor was there an escrow account, nor any paperwork/certified letters/etc. In other words, he just wasn't paying the rent. After 6 months(!) he was in danger of getting evicted. His landlord is the city of Portland, (it is at the bottom of a city owned parking garage,) and since he was running for Mayor at the time, people found out about this and he then claimed (for the first time that anyone had heard,) that the business didn't have any parking (remember the bit about him being in a parking garage? That he validates for too,) because the next door neighbor was using it all, (for the construction,) and couldn't/refused to answer any questions when people pointed out the problems with that statement. And he never actually did negotiate about how much the rent should be, (he might have actually gotten somewhere, but he never even tried,) he just went ahead and started paying it again after they threatened to evict him.

He isn't a great pioneer, he is a deadbeat who lied about it when he got caught. Don't get me wrong, Adams fell behind on his mortgage payment, (and has since caught back up,) but at least he admitted that he was having money problems.
27
@ Mathew D-"He isn't a great pioneer, he is a deadbeat who lied about it when he got caught. Don't get me wrong, Adams fell behind on his mortgage payment, (and has since caught back up,) but at least he admitted that he was having money problems."

You made a good point until you end with this horse manure.

Honestly, you dont know squat about Portland.
For you to state that Adams "at least admitted he was behind on his mortgage", is the lamest defend of Adams and integrity of him telling the truth, that I have heard in a while. Clearly,you are drinking beers with Adams camp.
You state the Dozono situation like I missed it or something, I followed it very closely. Sam Adams was the opponent of that Mayor race, and I question the inside job to gather the info and timing to release [Dozono bills] to the press. It clearly hurt his image via Mark "the" Weiner INC.
I'll give you an opportunity to recant your statement about Mr. Sho Dozono. He is a great small business guy who deserves the respect of helping with multiple city projects over decades in Portland. I went to school with his daughters and know them all as a great family.
Your attitude towards small business owners in Portland[downtown] is exactly the problem with City Hall today. Are you typing from a city computer? It would be believable.

Until you have owned a small business and felt the stress and anxiety of keeping the doors open, you are an outsider wondering, where the small business went from downtown??

You have a classic East Coast mentality much like the Mayor. You are in Oregon now!
28
Wow, ABS comes back out of the woodwork with another ill informed rant full if mis-truths and random bullshit. You really don't know how to conduct a civil discussion, do you?
29
@ABS: If you followed that situation very closely, and if you thought I had good points until the end, then why did you claim up above that Sho should have been given a break on his property taxes when he paid $0 in property taxes in the first place? If you can't be consistent from post to post on the same thread, this is kind of like arguing with a barking dog.

As for the "business unfriendly attitudes at city hall" though, go to any other city in the country, including Houston, (where they don't even have zoning codes,) pick up a paper and read the letters to the editor. There will be a letter in there complaining about the "business unfriendly attitudes at city hall." It is totally BS line, I have more respect for people that can't go on a date because they are "washing their hair" than people who use that line.

@Graham: It isn't just ABS who came out of the woodwork, check out this person's profile:
http://www.portlandmercury.com/portland/Pr…
30
Here's the thing. It sounds like Ted Papas might be a jerk. I can't say for sure. But does it really matter?

I feel like the attorney's assertion that the HIT squad might be unconstitutional is absolutely fair. I don't see any sign of due process here. The HIT squad shows up, cites you for whatever, charges you whatever and makes owners bend to their will, be it constant fire-checks or whatever. Where can the owner go to argue his case? To ask that a less stringent punishment be meted out?

The annoying thing is that it would be pretty easy for the HIT squad to open itself to oversight (and therefore grant authority to its decisions instead of slowly building up enough ill-will to make the HIT squad impotent - or worse - make them have to use more of the gestapo tactics they're accused of in order to be effective).

The HIT squad should simply write up a protocol detailing
1. How businesses are chosen (to make sure it is, in fact, random).
2. What the inspections will detail.
3. Exactly what punishments are prescribed for what infractions.

-- Publishing those details on a publicly accessible website would go a long way towards easing community resentment. Then, if they really wanted to be running things right, they could ask for a volunteer citizen board of say - I don't know - 10 people of different occupations; restaurant owners, sole proprietors, consumers, etc. that owners targeted by the HIT squad could voice complaints to. This board would would also have a published protocol for handling complaints. All of this could (and SHOULD) be enacted in less than a month and would help protect the city from (well-deserved, it seems) law-suits and the wasting of tax-payer money on trials.
31
@ow, "ABS comes back out of the woodwork with another ill informed rant full if mis-truths and random bullshit. You really don't know how to conduct a civil discussion, do you?"

I call BS on these statements from you. Not only am I "out of the woodwork", but in a grassroot mentality, I am deeply rooted in Portland soil. You can not get rid of the native Oregonians.

I have read comments from both Graham and Mathew D, for months, and the two of you are the kings of BS and random posts. Seems ironic for you to say this about my postings?

I mentioned the Sho example as one example, there are lots of less publicized and unreported small business stories that are harassed and treated poorly, to the point of closing, by your City Hall friends. You made a good argument until you made personal attacks on Sho's character and disrespected the Dozono family. Get it now? or do I have to spell it out in smaller words? playing stupid and insulting me is not much of a battle from a blogger with such "intellectual rigor"; as you think you may have.

I am watching you goons and going to speak my mind and post everywhere you post piles of City Hall horse-manure defense.
32
@ABS: Okay, you don't like me saying true* things about people that you like and you'll personally attack me for it. (You'll call my posts "horse manure" and the like, which is verifiablely not true. If they were horse manure, I'd be able to spread them on my garden, sorry, "deeply rooted Portland soil**," and things would grow, but as far as I can tell, the light from the computer won't even keep a houseplant alive.) But anyways, I've gotten that message.

But I'm still having problems with your example: How was Bush Gardens "harassed and treated poorly"? They were behind on their rent, their landlord said "pay up or we'll evict you," they paid up. Ignoring the drama in the middle of it all, (which was totally Sho's doing, he is the one that made up stories about lack of parking spaces, he could have just said, "Yeah, I'm having some cash flow problems, we are working on it," and the story would have died,) that is all your example is about. And yes, the landlord is the city, and it was treating them BETTER than a private landlord would have, (offering them a discount on the rent (before they even asked!) while their neighbor was doing construction and waiting 6 months before they start evictions are more generous than you'd get from 99% of landlords.) The only thing you've said was that they should have gotten was a break in their property taxes, but as I pointed out, they didn't pay any in the first place.

*Look up "deadbeat" and "liar" in the dictionary.
**What Indian tribe did you say you were from?
33
@"Look up "deadbeat" and "liar" in the dictionary."

you still continue with the disrespect....?
Its not much use for me to argue or discuss Sho Dozono with you, it sounds like your mind is made up, for whatever your reasoning is on that.

Why not give Sho a break on his late rent? Instead of an eviction? The amount of taxes Sho has paid is an unknown to me. I can imagine its fairly large considering the number of decades here in Portland...I am not a business partner of his or his accountant, How would I know exact amounts? How would you know exact amounts unless you are connected with the city....Why would you be so concerned and disrespectful to him?
I have had friends work at his travel agency and they said he was a good boss.

I said native Oregonian, meaning born and raised in Oregon. you have never heard that expression? I have Cherokee and Apache lines far back in the family tree, but not uncommon for Cherokee to be in peeps heritage.

I can only the imagine the amount of horse manure loaded up downtown.... need dump trucks to get rid of it?

I read your boy, Mayor Adams, screwed up toasting a bagel? what happen? Is he so incompetent that he cant toast a bagel? No wonder City Hall is so out of touch with its citizens...
34
This institution was a long standing impeachment to rules and regulations of any respectable restaurant establishment. Their mal-practices went unchecked for years and Papas has a lot of nerve sweeping these oversites aside and blaming his restaurant's demise on the actions of an aggressive commissioner. While I may not agree with the methods of the HIT squad, this restaurant is out of business and a history of ill-practice is put to rest. Good riddance!