About 'Butch Bales'

Friday, July 27, 2012

About 'Butch Bales'

Leopold Balestrieri, a/k/a 'Butch Bales'

...or, as we now know the new proprietor of the ol' Skyway Lounge to be, one Leo­pold Balestrieri (dob: 01-01-1964) seen in this 2010 Palm Beach County "mugshot."

At issue were two charges of kiting a check in violation of Florida Statute 832.05-3096, "Giving worth­less checks, drafts, and debit card orders."

Both charges, however, were quickly withdrawn.

It is not known if this sort of background is what caused Balestrieri to give Patch's Erica Jackson an alias as he did earlier this month, but it raised a red flag and piqued certain curiosities, including that of OtBB.

In poking around the past activities of Leopold Balestrieri, the Internet... thank you, Al Gore!... harbors some inter­esting caches of information.

Such as this interview from February 8, 2011:

"We sat down with Balestrieri, who prefers to be known simply as 'Chef Leopold,' to see what all the fuss is about with his latest venture."

(This is when he's not preferring to be called "Butch Bales.")

"Balestrieri left Italy in the early '90s to pursue a career in real estate development. Since that time, he has owned a series of restaurants in damned near every city he's set up shop. From Toronto and New York City to his most recent -- Mulberry Street Trattoria in Boone, North Carolina.

His final stop: Ocean Avenue in Lantana, Florida."

Four months later, the same correspondent filed this, on June 9, 2011:

"Known for his highly visible precense{sic} at Apicius, where he oversaw day-to-day management and worked in the kitchen alongside his staff, Balestrieri's reputation for confronting patrons -- even asking diners to leave his establishment -- became a deterrent for many would-be customers."

Evidence that no basil grows beneath Balestrieri's feet, the very next day, that writer filed this story:

Leopold Balestrieri to Open Harry's Bar on Palm Beach Island

Note the prefatory update from the attorney representing the family that owns the original Harry's Bar!

(Reminds me of the ol' days of the late '60s and '70s where a restaurant's opening night and closing night were the two best days they'd have... and often were only a week apart.)

Perhaps the most telling notices involving the restaurant Balestrieri was operating:

"Editor's note: This post and all associated with restaurateur Leo Balestrieri have been removed from this site. The overwhelming number of negative comments that became personal, directed at and received from the restaurant owner, prompted this move."

But now, an OtBB note to Leopold "Butch Bales" Bales­trieri... the use of a pseudonym is fine, but don't an­nounce that it's an alias unless you want people to start wondering why you're using one... and start poking around.

Look what has been found so far, without even breaking a sweat... and I didn't even get into that big fire of 2007.

There's an unfortunate coincidence here that may strike a responsive note with some of the longer timers in the area... a prior operator of the premises at 101 Old River­head Road was also associated with a number of late night conflagrations.

Comments

1. Hunt Marchwald said...

If kiting checks is his game, he found the perfect spot in our fair Village. Justice Court couldn't care less about such simple theft no matter the dollar amount and he can be assured of a release on recognizance regardless of his past.

2. Champ19 said...

Wow! Looks as if we may be in for an interesting culinary experience. This guy might make the "Hell's Kitchen" show look tame. That is if he gets the place open. It seems as if the word 'hospitality' may have been left out of some of his previous endeavors.

As I drive down Old Riverhead Road every day and see what appears to be extensive renovations ongoing I always find myself asking the same question: where's the money coming from? You know as in "follow the money." Assuming the place will have a NYS Liquor license I wonder what disclosures one might find on the application. Thanks again to the blogger for all the great research. This might get good!

According to the subject, he operates "world class restaurants" everywhere he goes, so money appears to not be a problem.

Look, I've often made the point here, especially when it comes to entranceways to the Village, that it's b-a-a-a-d to see businesses and buildings other than "used and useful."

One of the problems is the wretched economy, and the fact that The Government, on virtually all levels, is blamed for most economic ills.

But the recent bleats of "the Village should be more helpful to businesses," doesn't hold much water with me, and I am reminded of some pretty stirring words by that ol' Stalinist Lillian Hellman who told the House UnAmerican Activities Committee in 1952:
"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions...."
Economy's bad? It's bad all over. Don't expect the Village to bend or ignore the Code because of that... that would lead to a lawsuit a lot of lawsuits!
Dean

3. Chef Leopold said...

(This comment would have been a duplicate of what is published here.)
Dean

4. Chef Leopold said...

Last time I checked (and obviously you have checked) I have never had the pseudonyms of "Andrew Mazzio" "Nick Vero" or "Erika Jackson." Doesn’t Journalism 101 at the local community college teach you to get information straight from the horse's mouth? Well, consider me Mr. Ed. Again, you know exactly where I am sun up to sun down. It would not take much effort to get off of your chair and make a trip down to get facts from a primary source. You purposely sought out to discredit me with the mug shot. Those charges were immediately dropped and I have never been convicted of any crime. I'm spending a ton of money to build a gorgeous restaurant in this village. I was very excited to build Buckhead's Grill, but jealous people like you are really leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I wish I could get through life talking shit about people. And then I would tell them (not even man to man but over the internet to boot) "SHRUG". The day I become that big of a pansy will be one of the most shameful days of my life. I told Erika (who is a very classy lady) that I was planning on having an opening weekend carnival, with an open bar and a free barbeque pit for all of the locals so I could have a great introduction to the village. I was bouncing around the idea of having a mechanical bull for my OPENING WEEKEND but I could not secure the necessary permits from the Village. And that's fine. I would never complain about that. Once again, I am completely on board with obeying all of the Village compliance rules.

Nick Vero "shut up" because he is more patient with Village politics than I am. He is much aware and cognizant of what it takes to "get it done" here. That is why I hired him. I have a temper because I am a very passionate person. I take my craft very seriously. I cannot wait to bring this Village the most fantastic restaurant. I am not letting myself get discouraged with the constant roadblocks Houlihan is putting before me. I have really grown to love this Village and am very excited to open Buckheads and show everyone a type of cuisine that they have never experienced. I have built excellent relationships with many local residents and business owners. They all have the same thing to say about Houlihan. And it's not nice.

I did do my research and I have not stumbled upon one local business (or actually any business) that you owned. I'm sure if you owned anything, ever, you would be more than happy to gleefully announce it. In fact, I heard you were court-ordered to not furiously type away with a smile on your little blog back in 1998.

Anyways, once again, I invite you stop on by. Our smoker arrived a few weeks ago. I have been testing out all of my menu ideas to make sure they translate properly for the location. I do an excellent crow.

Yours truly,
Chef Leopold

You write well, Leopold... if your skills as a chef are commensurate, then the Village will beat a path to 101 Old Riverhead Road.

If, however, those skills are on a par with your research abilities or your standards for truth and accuracy, then the future of "Buckhead's Grill" is at best dubious.

For the record, I have no idea what your reference to a "court-ordred" anything might be about, and I'm confident that you don't either. Additionally, I note that as of the writing, neither of the Patch items have been corrected or amended.
Dean

5. Chef Leopold said...

Calling into question my Internet research skills, huh? I thought you loved the Internet? I thought you loved what you thought you found out about me. Isn't that what you were busting a load over just a few days ago? Looking me up on the internet must have made your entire year. Sorry, I don't geek out all day on the Internet. I actually go out and take a risk to make some money. I am a huge believer in entrepreneurship and have a firm stance that small and local business is what makes this country the best in the world. I don't know why some local little-bit blogger writes a bunch of half-truth rumors about me (without even contacting me directly) and then gets pissed when I bring up rumors I heard about him. Does anyone else find that just a tad bit ironic, nay, hypocritical? I admit that I was off a decade with my information about you. I heard the deputy mayor served you with a cease and desist letter in 2008 (not 1998 as I was initially informed (and unlike you, I can admit when I made an error about someone else)) for writing libelous statements on your little blog. I understand the words "court ordered" very well. It's pretty simple; COURT ORDERED. Do you need a thesaurus?

Again, swing on by any time any day. I would prefer to not have some high school girl bitch fest and talk to you man to man. Pansy guys like you are pretty disgraceful. You want to talk a lot of shit, so back it up. Talk is very cheap. If you stand by what you write, come by any time, see EXACTLY what I am building and the concept I am developing and THEN write a story about me. I harbor no ill will towards you. I understand you are trying to get your page clicks and don't have much entrepreneurial experience. You took offense when I called you a village lackey who has not owned anything in his life (if that is false, please let me know. I do not like spreading untrue rumors) My offer for a FREE lunch still stands. Give me a one day notice and I will make sure you have the best brisket that you have ever tasted.

If you're really interested that "'court ordered'" business, it was fully reported both here and in the local edition of The Southampton Press, June 2008.

Otherwise, your message is a bit mixed for my taste, #1, and, #2, you're starting to lose coherency and are flailing about a little too wildly... does this often happen late in the day with you?

O, and if you're going to continue writing the blog, clean up your language. You've already been afforded more latitude than anyone else over the past five years, so get control of yourself.
Dean

6. Chef Leopold said...

You missed a few commas in your sentence with the word "dubious". You seem to be a huge stickler on spelling and grammar, so I'm just trying to help you out. I love the saying, "you know you lost an Internet flame war when all you can do is pick apart spelling and grammar". No worries. I'm the king of typos. But, I'm sure you love that rule.

I understand that English may be a second language for you, and as well as you speak and write it, do not presume to instruct me on Independent vis Dependent clauses, and I will never presume to instruct you on any of the culinary arts.
Dean

7. Seeker said...

Dean - Go have lunch with this guy - what energy!

As for Houlihan and the business community - he is a stickler for following Village Code and most often problems seem to arise from applicants (and their attorneys or other spokesmen) who try to find ways to ignore or even sue their way past the Code. People tend to like to take aim at the messenger, and in Houlihan's case, I'm amazed at just how good-humored he remains after years of people taking pot-shots at his character when he is doing exactly what he was hired to do for this Village.

  1. I'll pass... for now.
  2. While Chef Leopold's expressing considerable ambition, I'd think he'd best serve his goals by getting all his ducks in a row so he can proceed.
  3. In my decades of clocking Village Government, I've seen builders, engineers and such serving as Building Inspector. Paul Houlihan is the only certified Building Administrator, one of the three best hires made by former Mayor Bob Strebel.

    The recent assaults on the Building Department, and the code, by Andrew Mendelson, Micky Biss and Leo Balestrieri could almost be described as "concerted." Desperate times generate desperate measures. I think it demonstrates a dismissive attitude toward "back-water" Westhampton Beach.
Dean

8. Tugboat Bertha said...

You two guys could take this show on the road. It's very entertaining. But play nice, boys.

I am playing nice, and I believe that my position has been consistent!
Dean

9. Seeker said...

Respecting #3 comment to my comments, I refer to another opinion stated on another one of your pieces - the Village is being inundated by [modern-day] carpetbaggers.

I think I've always reserved that pejorative term for thems what move here and run for office. New businesses are good... as long as they play by the rules.
Dean

10. The Quiogue Kid said...

Gentlemen! Gentlemen! lol... I think we can all agree if the burgers are not served to the tables on a model train, it really isn't a Westhampton Beach restaurant....

  • The Choo-Choo wasn't a restaurant so much as a "Lionel Lunchcounter."
  • That was w-a-a-a-y before Leo's time.
Dean

11. EastEnd68 said...

Wow – can't wait for this place to open!

Hope you've got some reading material... "War and Peace" and "Les Miserables," for starters.
Dean

12. Chef Leopold said...

I do not have any required reading for my place. I really don't know why you keep giving slight jabs. It's a bit passive aggressive, but I understand your jealousy as having nothing opened anything thing on your own. Aside from your little blog.

Just keep building, Leo, just keep building.
Dean

13. Chef Leopold said...

Just keep blogging, Dean. Just keep blogging.

I believe you should have used a semi colon instead of a comma; right?

  1. I will.
  2. Wrong.
Dean

14. Fred said...

So, Butch/Leo, care to share a monetary figure for which you are being sued for services not paid for while you freeloaded off the backs of the tradesman there at your-never-to-open f**khead grill? Or better yet, how much is it going to cost you to take down the roofed extention you put up that was not to code... really, how much money do you owe the people who worked on the place? Just a ball park figure will suffice.

O, yeah, hope to see you in court... and do remember, perjury is felony!

Not coincidentally, Leopold Balestrieri has a Westhampton Beach Justice Court Appearance before Associate Justice Francis Fineo on March 13th, for issuing a bad check.

This hasn't been a good run for Leo of late... last week, he didn't do so well before the Zoning Board of Appeals for the "awning" extension he put up. The Board determined that it was actually a "roofed structure."
Dean

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