Owners of popular Lynora Osteria eatery embroiled in lawsuit


Lynora’s Osteria in downtown West Palm Beach, the cozy Italian eatery born of two successful restaurateurs, is being plundered by partner Angelo Abbenante and his father, Raffaele, claims a lawsuit filed by the restaurant’s two other partners.

Sascha Bennemann, formerly of Pistache French Bistro, and partner David Khoury, say the Abbenantes who deny the allegations have used the restaurant’s bank accounts for their own personal expenses, including real estate taxes, home construction, day trading and even a gym membership.

The allegations were leveled in a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. The derivative complaint was filed on behalf of the restaurant’s parent, 225 East Ocean Avenue Inc., and seeks to remove the Abbenante family from control of Lynora’s bank accounts and cash.

For many years, the Abbenante family owned the popular Lynora’s Italian Restaurant in Lake Worth, started by Angelo’s parents, Raffaele and Maria in the 1970s.

Angelo, their son, joined forces with West Palm Beach restaurant veteran Bennemann to open Lynora’s in 2014, at 207 Clematis Street.

The eatery has been hailed as a successful blend of authentic old-school Italian cooking, with a modern twist.

But proper oversight of the restaurant’s finances has not been successful, Bennemann and Khoury alleged in the complaint, which names both Angelo and Raffaele Abbenante, who is listed as a 50 percent owner of the corporation.

Both Abbenante men have access to the company’s bank accounts, the lawsuit said. Cash withdrawals on the corporate credit card, in the amount of $50 or so, are common practices, the lawsuit claims.

And Lynora’s bank accounts have been used for Angelo’s personal expenses, including trips to Dunkin Donuts, gym memberships, bar tabs and personal purchases at Rooms-to-Go and Publix, the lawsuit says.

Bennemann claims Angelo also used corporate money for home construction jobs in the San Messina development in Lake Worth and a home in West Palm Beach, the lawsuit says.

Among the charges listed as inappropriate in the complaint: $44,000 to Raffaele and Maria; and some $70,500 in cash and distributions to Angelo and a separate business he owns.

On Monday, Angelo Abbenante denied the allegations and said the lawsuit was settled last Friday. But both Dave Roy, attorney for Bennemann, and Gary Betensky, attorney for Khoury, said that’s not true.

The case “is an ongoing lawsuit that has not been resolved,” Roy said.

Meanwhile, the kitchen has been “hijacked” by Raffaele and Maria and servers and managers fear for their jobs and personal safety, the lawsuit says.

Bennemann and Khoury said the restaurant’s 2014 taxes are “impossible to prepare,” even though the deadline is only two months away, the lawsuit says. Some payroll taxes also haven’t been paid, which could result in problems with the Internal Revenue Service, the lawsuit said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Sessions declines to recuse himself from probe into Trump lawyer
Sessions declines to recuse himself from probe into Trump lawyer

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided against recusing himself from the investigation into President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, but will consider stepping back from specific questions tied to the probe, according to a person familiar with the matter.  By contrast, Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian...
‘Welcome home’: Meek Mill attends Philadelphia 76ers game after prison release
‘Welcome home’: Meek Mill attends Philadelphia 76ers game after prison release

Hours after it was announced he would be released from prison, rapper Meek Mill attended Game 5 of the NBA playoffs between the Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat. “Welcome home Meek Mill,” the public announcer said at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, The Associated Press reported. Cheers erupted from the crowd...
FDA launches crackdown on Juul e-cigarettes, vaping retailers
FDA launches crackdown on Juul e-cigarettes, vaping retailers

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on the vaping industry, particularly on the devices being marketed towards teenagers. The federal agency launched an undercover sting operation this month targeting retailers of Juul devices. It included gas stations, convenience stores and online retailers -- accusing them of selling products to minors...
Amazon’s critics get new life with Trump’s attacks on the company
Amazon’s critics get new life with Trump’s attacks on the company

One of Amazon’s antagonists seized the moment last month with an unusual newspaper advertisement addressed to President Donald Trump. The ad, from a nonprofit that advocates less government, attacked a Defense Department technology contract that Amazon intends to bid on, calling it a lucrative handout for the company.  A top think tank critic...
Democrats fear Grassley special counsel bill amendment will let GOP tip off Trump about Mueller probe
Democrats fear Grassley special counsel bill amendment will let GOP tip off Trump about Mueller probe

Democrats are warning that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman's proposed changes to a bill to protect special counsels from undue firing would give the GOP the ability to tip off President Donald Trump about developments in Robert Mueller's probe of him — the latest flash point on the legislation's rocky road to a committee vote, expected...
More Stories