La Crémaillère, the renowned French restaurant in the Banksville section of North Castle, is being accused of cooking up an unsavory financial fare.
Judy Smith, a niece of restaurateurs Robert and Barbara Meyzen, said she loaned them $155,000 in 2013 and secured the debt with a mortgage.County records show that the mortgage has been satisfied. But that document, Smith said, was forged and she is still owed nearly $153,000.
“The only parties who would gain from the forgery,” she alleges, are “the Meyzens.”
Attempts to reach the Meyzens for comment were unsuccessful.
La Crémaillère is housed in a 1750s farmhouse on Bedford-Banksville Road, on the Connecticut border.
Vanity Fair recently described it as “home to the finest French country cooking on the East Coast.”
It opened in 1949, and Robert Louis Meyzen, who trained as a waiter and maître d’ at the renowned Le Pavillon and who opened La Caravelle in Manhattan, took over in 1962. He died in 1995. His son and current co-owner, Robert Olivier Meyzen, began working at La Crémaillère in 1975.
Its reputation for excellence, rooted in classic French country cooking, has drawn a celebrity audience over the years, including, Vanity Fair said, Tom Brokaw, Glenn Close, Andrew Cuomo, Tommy Hilfiger, Mick Jagger, Billy Joel and Regis Philbin.
Smith filed the lawsuit on Feb. 15 in Westchester Supreme Court in White Plains, under the name of her limited partnership, L&J Smith Investments of Fort Worth, Texas. Besides the Meyzens and La Crémaillère, she names as defendants Meyzen Family Realty Associates and Celtic Bank Corp. of Salt Lake City.
The Meyzens mortgaged the restaurant property to Celtic Bank Corp. in September 2013, to secure a $900,500 promissory note.
Two months later, Smith loaned them $155,000, and in early 2014 she secured her loan with a mortgage.
Last October, a satisfaction of mortgage was filed with the Westchester County Clerk, signed by Judy Smith and attested to by Texas notary public Sheron V. Keils.
The signatures, Smith claims, are forgeries.
“I have not,” she states in an affidavit, “done anything to release or discharge any mortgage related to La Crémaillère restaurant.”
Keils also submitted an affidavit, stating that she did not notarize the document. Even the notary seal, showing her commission expiring in November, is not authentic.
“I have never had a commission that expired on Nov. 13, 2018,” she said.
Smith alleges that the mortgage release was filed so that a new lender would provide financing to pay off the Celtic Bank debt. The new lender, who is not named, withdrew financing “when the fact that the release was a forged and fraudulent document” was presented.
Smith is asking the court to nullify the mortgage release, reinstate the mortgage and her status as a lienholder against the property, and to award $50,000 in damages.