Cafe Society

Frank Bonanno blames a Westword post for his now-dead restaurant deal

What, so it's our fault?

Last week, I broke the news that Frank Bonanno was adding a fifth restaurant to his culinary kingdom, a French-American comfort-food joint that would be taking up residence later this summer in a "biker bar" that required "a huge transformation" -- words that came directly from an e-mail keystroked by Campbell Levy, Bonanno's PR guy who works for Promo Communications in Aspen. (Am I the only one who finds that weird, considering that all of Bonanno's restaurants are in Denver, and Denver has plenty of PR folks who are fully adept at repping local restaurants?)

Bonanno was in Mexico when Levy's e-mail landed in my inbox, but Bonanno, who's never far from his Facebook page or Twitter account, quickly typed a Facebook status that said, "I leave the country for a few days and the rumors just fly." That soon spiraled into a barrage of tweets from Bonanno, including this one: "@sarah_gore [The Westword blog post is based on] bad information . . .I think there are even quotes in that story, which is odd . . ." And this one: "@sarah_gore [Westword's Lori Midson] wrote what someone said I said. Thing is, I had a different deal working-but that blog ended it."

That's right: According to Bonanno, it was my post, gleaned from information from Bonanno's own flack, that screwed up the deal. I know both Campbell Levy and Bonanno, and couldn't be happier that he's looking to open another restaurant, but releasing information -- complete with quotes-- and then publicly scapegoating Westword when plans get derailed is bullshit.

Bright and early this morning, Denver PR Blog offered a free tip for both Bonanno and Levy: "If you are drafting quotes for a client, make sure 1) the client reviews and approves the quotes and 2) agrees not to disavow them publicly." Word.

I e-mailed Bonanno yesterday, asking for clarification and arguing that his tweets implied the "bad information" was the result of shoddy reporting on my part. The "deal is done because of the premature information that's out there," he replied. "I'm working on it, though -- really working -- on putting things back in order."

That's all well and good, but if things don't work out, don't blame us.

You can read Campbell Levy's original May 6 e-mail in its entirety after the jump.

Hi Lori,

Frank Bonanno is opening a fifth restaurant in Denver. We're about four to five months away from opening, but the planning has already begun. The menu will feature 'French-American Comfort Food.'

According to Bonanno, "this is a restaurant that will bring us back to our food roots." The menu will feature an entire section of house made sausages, including Veal Brats with Charcroute and Thai (Spicy Pork and Duck) Green Curried Potatoes. It will also feature a Pate section on the menu; including, Chasseur Pate (Rabbit & Chicken) and Provincial Pate (Chicken & Duck).

In continuing his trend to make fine-dining accessible to anyone, nothing on the menu will be priced over $20.

I'd love to speak a bit more about the new restaurant - as you already know, opening a fifth restaurant has huge implications for next year's Beard 'Restaurateur of the Year" Awards, as Frank has twice been named to the semifinalist list. The space where the restaurant is opening is currently a biker bar, so a huge transformation will begin to take shape.

Additional information will be available as more is finalized in the coming weeks, but let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

Best Regards, Campbell