Personal memorabilia is at heart of Village Pizzeria dispute

| December 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

MEMENTOS fill the space at Village Pizzeria.

A dispute between the former and current owners of Larchmont Pizzeria — first reported in the pages of the Larchmont Chronicle — has escalated to social media and beyond.The Chronicle article was more than a year ago, several months after the July 2022 closing of the sale of the pizzeria to a new ownership group.

Now the story of the acrimonious dispute has landed in the Los Angeles Times (“Who owns the memorabilia on the walls of this iconic L.A. pizzeria?,” Dec. 14, 2023).

Former owner Steve Cohen, who long has lived with his family in the Larchmont Village Neighborhood, near the pizzeria he founded 27 years ago, filled the restaurant’s walls with his personal mementos.

He wants them back. All of them. There are the neon signs, the clocks, the framed personal photos and more.

As reported most recently in The Times, the new owners refuse. They accuse Cohen of breaching his contract and presenting a rosier-than-true financial picture of the pizzeria, said their lawyer, John Schlaff.

The seller’s and buyers’ argument also has played out in social media. According to the buyers’ attorney, Cohen was offered a deal at one point to buy back the restaurant at half of the sales price.

Cohen refused. He was then offered a deal where he would turn over access to the restaurant’s Facebook page (that he still controls) in exchange for the new owners returning the memorabilia, attorney Schlaff said.

That deal is still up in the air.

The pizzeria’s new ownership group appears to include film producers Jeff Bowler and Bret Saxon. The two were the subjects of an investigative report in November, also in The Times. Its authors described lawsuits and allegations of fraud in Bowler’s and Saxon’s film producing business.

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