A catering contract between a non-secular business and a Catholic fraternal organization – namely, Marc Charles Restaurant Inc. and the Knights of Columbus – has not been a match made in heaven.Marc Charles, doing business as Mansion on Broadway, and the K of C have been fighting for years over use of the religious group’s 118-year-old mansion at 139 North Broadway in White Plains.
They reached a settlement in October, after a one-day trial in Westchester Supreme Court, in which the caterer would buy the mansion for $2.1 million. But last month, Marc Charles filed a new lawsuit alleging that the K of C, also known as the Fr. William A. Dunphy Council, has refused to sign a document the caterer needs to finance the transaction.
Mansion on Broadway is the creation of Michael Pasqualini, a restaurateur who has operated establishments in Miami Beach and Stamford. The catering business opened in 2011, and it hosts more than 200 events a year, including bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, birthdays, corporate events and weddings.
A 2013 contract gives Pasqualini exclusive catering rights at the mansion. The organizations share profits, starting with 60 percent of revenues going to the caterer after expenses and increasing to 70 percent when revenues exceed $500,000. The K of C provides the liquor license, and its president, Peter Compitello, and his family live in a two-bedroom apartment in the mansion.
K of C accused Marc Charles in 2014 of failure to account for all revenues, and the caterer sued to restrain the K of C from locking it out of the house. They settled the dispute in 2015 and drew up new forms to account for revenue.
Marc Charles sued again in 2016.
The caterer claimed that Compitello disrupted business by walking around barefooted and unkempt, permitting his dog to roam freely during bookings and events, and allowing pervasive odors of cigarette and marijuana smoke to emanate from his apartment.
The kitchen was dirty and in disrepair, Marc Charles said in a pre-trial brief filed last year, and K of C allowed the liquor license to lapse.
The caterer claimed that it lost about $200,000 in business from potential Jewish clients, because Compitello had installed a three-foot-high Catholic crucifix on a wall so that it could not be taken down for events.
Marc Charles, the K of C responded in its pre-trial brief, was renting out parking spaces, loaning the facility to other groups to prepare meals, failing to keep the kitchen safe and sanitary, and not accounting for some events.
K of C claimed the caterer has covered a Virgin Mary statue, crucifix and Knights of Columbus sign for events.
“The plaintiff would like to think that the property is owned by him, with no other religious or charitable affiliation,” the brief stated. “The fact that the religious symbols do not agree with some customers’ beliefs does not allow the plaintiff to remove or cover these symbols.”
Late last year, the parties worked out a deal. Marc Charles would buy the mansion for $2.1 million. K of C would be allowed to use the house on Monday nights in perpetuity.
They signed a land sale contract in March. Marc Charles was given until May 29 to secure financing, with the possibility of extending the deadline to June 15. But K of C has refused to sign a subordination agreement with the lender, the caterer claimed, and has refused to extend the deadline.
Marc Charles is asking the court to compel K of C to perform its obligations under the settlement agreement.
“They say we’re not complying with the contract,” K of C attorney Glen A. Kurtis said. “I say we are.”