Chris Miller, co-owner of West Hollywood’s Revolver Video Bar, has filed suit against Alfredo Diaz, Revolver’s manager and Miller’s business partner, alleging that Diaz misappropriated tens of thousands of dollars from the business.
In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Miller alleges that Diaz used the gay bar’s bank account as his own “piggy bank.” Among Miller’s allegations are that Diaz spent $5,372 of the bar’s money to pay for parking tickets; $4,725 for patio furniture and $1,019 for a koi pond at the house in Larchmont that he shares with his husband, Mike Stommel, and two children, and $7,186 for clothing. Miller says Diaz also took $16,288 in cash from Revolver.
Miller also says that Diaz failed to pay California taxes on Revolver’s sales, leaving it more than $300,000 in arrears, and has issued checks to vendors and employees that have bounced because of insufficient funds in the bar’s bank account.
As a result of those and other misappropriations, Miller says, Diaz has “exposed … Revolver to financial ruin.”
Miller’s filing of the lawsuit casts new light on a division between the partners that became evident at a West Hollywood City Council meeting last month at which Diaz spoke against allowing David Cooley, founder of The Abbey, to open a new bar and restaurant nearby on Santa Monica Boulevard. While Diaz has been an outspoken critic of the eponymous Cooley’s gastropub, Miller appeared before the Council to speak in support of Cooleys. The Council approved the plan for Cooley’s. The two business partners did not acknowledge one another’s presence at the meeting.
Diaz denied the allegations in Miller’s suit and described it as frivolous. “Chris is fully aware of exactly how everything in the company has been run,” he said. “There have never been any issues until I opposed the Cooley’s project.”
Diaz said he had been subjected to a lot of pressure for opposing Cooley’s and described the lawsuit as an example of that pressure. He said that Miller once dated David Cooley and that the lawsuit “is a result of Chris’ hope that he and David will be business partners.”
Revolver opened on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Larrabee Street in West Hollywood’s gay “Boystown” in October 2011. It replaced a bar called East/West, opened by Trip Wilmot in 2005, that went out of business in 2011. East/West was the successor to the original Revolver, which took its name from its revolving door. It opened in 1982, embracing the video bar craze fostered by MTV, which launched two years earlier.
Miller and Diaz each own 44.5 percent of Loaded Gun LLC, Revolver’s parent company. Kenneth Linzer, a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Hobart Linzer, which has represented Loaded Gun, owns ten percent, and Ofir Lang, vice president for marketing at Nathan’s Glass and Mirror, owns one percent. Miller says he contributed the money to open the business.
In his lawsuit, Miller asks the court to remove Diaz as manager of Revolver and replace him with someone chosen by Miller or someone chosen by the court. The suit seeks reimbursement of the money Diaz allegedly took from Revolver and punitive damages, the total of both amounts yet to be determined.