by Ian Froeb
A lawsuit has divided the partners behind one of St. Louis' best known and most successful restaurants, the Midtown barbecue joint Pappy's Smokehouse (3106 Olive Street; 314-535-4340). Joe Holleman of the Post-Dispatch broke the news of the lawsuit pitting Michael Wegmann against Mike Emerson (who is, for lack of a better term, Pappy's public persona) and John Matthews.
Wegmann, as Size 14 Hat LLC, filed the suit for breach of contract two years ago against Emerson and Matthews, as 3 Pigs BBQ LLC. The Post-Dispatch was only able to view a few records pertaining to the case before Judge David Mason sealed the case and told the involved parties not to comment to the media.
See Also: - The Seven Best Barbecue Joints in St. Louis 2012
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The Post-Dispatch did view one document, a receiver's report, which reportedly concludes that there is almost no chance of the parties salvaging the partnership and suggests a buyout -- presumably (though this isn't entirely clear from the Post-Dispatch article) of Emerson or Emerson and Matthews buying out Weggman.
(In a 2011 St. Louis Business Journal article, Weggman, described as a principle of Weggman Properties, "said his family has invested more than $14 million in nine Midtown Alley buildings". Gut Check was unable to verify or update this information at the time of this writing.)
This receiver's report appears to pay particular attention to the business relationship, or lack thereof, between Pappy's Smokehouse and Bogart's Smokehouse (1627 South 9th Street; 314-621-3107), which Pappy's pitmaster Skip Steele and three other former Pappy's employees opened in 2011.
Here, near the very end of the Post-Dispatch report is what appears to be the key paragraph:
[The receiver's] report specifies there is "no evidence that Emerson or Matthews have any ownership/financial interest in Bogart's" and states that Steele has no ownership interest in Pappy's. It continues to say there was "no evidence of any co-mingling of funds."
While Gut Check is the very opposite of a legal expert, we can't help but notice the following facts:
- Weggman's lawsuit alleges breach of contract.
- The lawsuit was filed the same month, February 2011, that Bogart's opened.
- The receiver's report that the Post-Dispatch obtained before the judge sealed the suit concludes that Emerson and Matthews have no ownership or financial stake in Bogart's.
It doesn't seem too far-fetched to speculate that the opening of Bogart's is in some way connected to the original lawsuit. Of course, unless the judge unseals the case again, speculate is all we can do.