Redstone's owner smacked with lawsuits

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Will Tom Petters' $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme fallout affect the restaurant industry?

Dean Vlahos, owner of the suburban chain Redstone American Grill, was sued Monday in two separate lawsuits by a Rochester bank for defaulting on $13 million in mortgage and business loans.

The Strib reported Monday that Vlahos and his estranged wife Michelle were among the biggest victims of Petters' mammoth scam. The couple had allegedly invested -- and lost -- more than $16 million in Petters' faux business interests.

In just October, shortly after Petters' arrest, Vlahos told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal that the restaurants -- including one in Minnetonka and one in Eden Prairie -- would be unscathed by the scandal, despite Petters' 16 percent ownership stake.

The purportedly overpriced steakhouse slash BBQ (Best Ribs in '05 said MSPMag) chainlet has three locations outside Minnesota, and according to its website, is planning to open one in Maryland this summer. It made the news in late 2007 after snagging former Famous Dave's CEO Dave Goronkin.

Vlahos is also founder of the Champps sports grill chain (whose New Brighton franchise was, incidentally, slapped with a lawsuit itself last week over a 2006 salmonella outbreak).

A call placed to Redstone's corporate offices went straight to voicemail.


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