OUR STORY:


(This story 100% real fact)

 

Hi, my name is Andres Rodas, I am the founder of Fragole, located at 394 Court St in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn . In September 2003 I was approached by Antonio L., a businessman who owned several businesses at that time including Max on Court (currently Fragole).

At that time I was an immigrant with goals and dreams, I was working as a waiter in a well known restaurant in NYC, like many people that come to this great country in search of the American dream.

THE OPPORTUNITY :

In September 2003 I was approached with an offer to buy 30% shares from a partner that Antonio felt shouldn't be involved in the corporation anymore (Max on Court) (Public Record #7).

I took a loan from a friend, some money from my bank account and with the help of my family worked on improving the restaurant. We change the menu, the style, the name and start a new restaurant.

We did everything we had to do in order to get the restaurant running; we sanded the floors, painted, put up the lights, you name it.

I created the menu, trained the cooks, hired and trained servers and busboys. Paula, my wife, designed the menus, which she made by hand and spent days cutting out and painting the sign that still sits on top of the entrance, she made the tables from scratch, she cut the wood, sanded them, painted them by hand. She also designed the logo, the website, and business cards….

My daughter Merlina was 8 years old at the time, and she participated too, since she loved strawberries she chose the name Fragole for our restaurant.

 

THE BEGINNING OF A DREAM:

On October 31st 2003 at 4pm we finished painting the last wall, but we couldn't wait until next day to open so, at 6pm the same day we opened our doors to the neighborhood.


We put in a lot of work in the following years as well, I worked with no days off for 2 years in a row, 7 days a week, morning to night. While my wife and I were working the floor, my daughter was doing her homework in the basement and when it was time for bed we would join 3 chairs together with a couple of blankets for her to sleep on.

I grew up making homemade bread and pasta, so I wanted to have the same quality food at Fragole. I taught the cooks and prep guys how to make good pasta and bread from scratch until they mastered it.

Every day I tried hard to improve every recipe and technique.

We gave the best service we could, friendly and efficient, and year by year the sales started to go up until they passed the million dollar mark in sales, and stayed that way for many years.

THE BEGINNING OF A NIGHTMARE:


At the end of 2011 I got the opportunity to open my own small restaurant in Park Slope. So I told Antonio that for a few months I had to take care of the new place, but I’d pass by Fragole and keep checking on it every day, and of course receive my profits as a shareholder at the end of the month.

The answer I got was that I was not his family and if I wanted to make some profit I'd have to keep working at Fragole.

I asked Antonio why it was that his brother in law was making profits every month without even setting foot in the restaurant (Public Record #6) , but the answer was already given to me: he is family.

The very next day I went to Fragole around 11pm, to see how everything was going and to check on the sales and the password to get into the POS system was changed. I called Antonio and he said that if I touched the computer he was going to call the police, and even now, he continues to threaten me even though the authorities have no power in this matter.

In the next 2 days I received word that as a minority shareholder I could no longer be involved in the restaurant.


I sent him a reply letter, and we continued sending letters back and forth for a while, and after a few months of exchanging letters and emails, not knowing what the sales were and not getting any money from the restaurant, I asked Antonio to buy my shares so we could end everything easily and in peace.


I asked many professionals to value the restaurant and from the valuation they gave me I made an offer of half the market value. (At that time with no money coming from Fragole and low sales of my new restaurant, my family and I were barely making it through each day).

Antonio said that the offer was too high and that in a few days he’d give me a counter offer.

At that time Fragole was selling about $1,100,000 a year, his offer was one payment of $10,000 and another payment of $9773 in 2 years, (A total of $19733) (Public Record #4). Of course he said that was all the money he had, (this coming from a guy that in 2012 owned 70% of Fragole, one business on the Upper East side, and 3 restaurants in the city)(Public Record #5). Out of desperation I was about to sell it, so I told him to go ahead and start preparing the agreement. I received the agreement and then I decided not to sign it.

So my last chance was trying to sell my shares to an outsider (Public Record #3), and again Antonio made this impossible, so I had no chance but to start a lawsuit against him and his brother in law (Public record #1).

After 3 long years we won part of the battle (Public record #2), the Supreme Court decided that I’m a 30% owner and ordered a Court accountant , but at the moment he still getting our money and oppresing us every time he gets a chance.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM:
 

It is so sad for me to hear from customers that since I left Fragole in 2012 things were going down, mainly food quality and service, and of course the sales. 
We worked so hard to give people the best we can, and became a part of this great neighborhood. We all love Fragole that's why it is so sad to see everything going backwards but regrettably, there are people that only care about money and don't work on the things that really matter...

I don't really think my family will receive any of the money that is rightfully ours (Public Record #8); as Antonio has made it clear, in an email sent by his attorney, that he is not planning to renew the lease that's expiring next year, so it'll be sad to see Fragole go. He is not satisfied with taking our money, what more does he want? He wants us out of the restaurant, consequently depriving us, our staff and our customers of the real Fragole experience, the one we strived so hard to achieve. 

 
Please share our story!
Now that you know the facts, what do you think?
Feel free to contact me at: info@fragoleny.com

http://pardonmeforasking.blogspot.com/2015/06/sadly-fragole-on-court-street-may-close.html