Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Landlord suing Farmers' Cabinet owner for $1 million

Matt Swartz's bar-operating stint in Philadelphia - where he opened and closed establishments with stunning regularity - seems to be over for now.

Landlord suing Farmers' Cabinet owner for $1 million

The Farmers´ Cabinet at 1111-13 Walnut St.
The Farmers' Cabinet at 1111-13 Walnut St. MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com

Just after one of bar owner Matt Swartz's landlords locked him out of two bars he was operating, the landlord of his third bar filed suit in Municipal Court to kick him out.

Main Line restaurateur Michael Wei, whose holdings include Yang Ming in Bryn Mawr, seeks more than $1 million in back rent, future rent and unpaid bills surrounding the Farmers' Cabinet, 1111-13 Walnut St.

Wei's company, Lucky Fortunes LLC, bought the building last year.

The Farmers' Cabinet has been closed since July 7, when a notice posted on the door indicated that it was undergoing "summer cleaning" and would reopen July 11. 

Reached Wednesday, Wei said the situation was in the hands of his attorney and declined to elaborate. Swartz did not reply to a request for comment.

Swartz's bar-operating stint in Philadelphia - where he opened and closed establishments with stunning regularity - seems to be over for now. 

Swartz's empire began to unravel about three weeks ago.

Pete Antipas, Swartz's landlord in Sutton's Parlor (38-40 S. 19th St.) and Logan Goat (20th and Arch Streets) and the owner of those bars' liquor licenses, said he changed the locks to exclude Swartz.

Days before, Antipas learned he was facing possible sanctions by the state Liquor Control Board, which alleges that Swartz has an undisclosed pecuniary interest in Sutton's Parlor.

Swartz's name does not appear and has not appeared on the liquor licenses of his bars. Some licenses are in the name of his wife, Colleen, who also is a defendant in the suit filed by Lucky Fortunes, which was filed July 3.

Farmers' Cabinet was the scene of a bizarre incident in December. State police noticed that the bar's liquor license had been forged to alter the fact that it had expired.

Farmers' Cabinet had become, in effect, a speakeasy. Swartz was arrested and charged with forgery and related offenses.

He pleaded guilty to tampering with public records and operating an unlicensed bar; he was sentenced to a year's probation and fined $1,000.

Swartz's probation officer, Christina Quartullo, meanwhile, was moonlighting for Swartz as a waitress, in a situation brought to light by Victor Fiorillo of Philadelphia Magazine, who reported the Lucky Fortunes lawsuit on Thursday.

Court officials said Quartullo was fired.

Swartz, from upstate Pennsylvania, made the Philadelphia scene in 2010 with a beer bar in East Falls called Fork & Barrel. Shortly after, he came downtown with the Farmers' Cabinet. But mere months later, in 2011, he shut down Fork & Barrel in the middle of the night, surprising his landlord. 

In 2012, Swartz also opened and closed two bars - The Boilermaker and later The Butcher & the Brewer - at 11th and Locust.

Michael Klein Philly.com
About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at mklein@philly.com.

Michael Klein Philly.com
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