BIG change at the Magic Castle

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Postby Pete Biro » 01/03/09 03:23 PM

The MFB (Magic Food and Beverage company) is GONE... the restaurant/bar business has been taken over the the Acadamy Board. Word is the food and service has improved 400% already, and the prices have dropped considerably.

Stay tooned....
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Postby Magic Randy » 01/03/09 03:30 PM

Thanks Pete. I had not heard of the change. I'll give it a try.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/03/09 03:59 PM

That is big news.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 01/03/09 04:52 PM

Wow...big news, indeed.
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 01/03/09 07:39 PM

Huge. Thanks for letting us know...
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Postby Magic Randy » 01/03/09 09:36 PM

I can't find any details on what's going on the Magic Castle forum. All I can see is that MFB is definitely out. I guess it's related to the the sale of the property.
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 01/04/09 12:21 AM

My anonymous source relays the following:

As of 1/2/09:
- MFB and AMA did not reach an agreement
- Property sale did not happen
- AMA has changed the locks, taken control of food & beverage service, and has removed MFB from the building
- A hearing is set for Monday
- Current MFB staff (bar, servers, cooks) are welcome to stay and work for AMA; MFB management is locked out, literally

Eager to hear other news as it happens...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/04/09 11:26 AM

Doesn't sound like it's over yet.
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Postby Magic Randy » 01/04/09 11:48 AM

It looks like the beginning of another phase. I thought the arrangement with MFB was tied to their lease.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/04/09 12:04 PM

It is tied to the lease, but the Glover family (who run MFB) are the lease-holders. If the lease no longer exists (if someone else has bought the land) then MFB might well be out.
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Postby Magic Randy » 01/04/09 12:21 PM

I'm sure you are correct. Those that know are not talking. My guess is that the pending sale is near complete and they cut a deal with the new owners. The current leadership would not evict the landlord without knowing how this would play out.
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Postby MagicBilly » 01/04/09 12:52 PM

Does "did not happen" mean not yet or won't ? Only a handful know, so speculation is futile.

Thinking simply here.

Until escrow closes, the Glovers own the property. Albeit the lease expired 12/31/08, the Glovers remain in control as to who there lessee is. Though intertwined, that and who runs Food and Beverage are two separate topics. While the AMA and MFB are locking horns around many things, the expired MFB agreement, employees/employers and whatnot, I doubt the Glovers have or would file a notice for the AMA to vacate the property as that would simply risk the overall sale of the property.

Now if escrow did or does fall through...the road becomes much more difficult for the AMA at their current Franklin address.

just my .02
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/04/09 01:58 PM

The potential buyer, from what I've heard, is really interested in Yamashiro, the Japanese restaurant on top of the hill. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that other parts of the hill, including the Castle, are sold to someone else--particularly in this economy.
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Postby David Thomas » 01/04/09 02:50 PM

Cool.......
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Postby Magic Randy » 01/04/09 03:25 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The potential buyer, from what I've heard, is really interested in Yamashiro, the Japanese restaurant on top of the hill. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that other parts of the hill, including the Castle, are sold to someone else--particularly in this economy.


Maybe the someone else is Tom Glover. Sell the Yamashiro and whatever else and pay off the relatives not interested in the Magic Castle, and keep the property the Castle is on himself.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/04/09 03:35 PM

The Glovers want out.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/06/09 03:27 AM

Tom was said to have said, "The Magic Castle, Milt and I will be around for a long time." I don't know what to read in that, but the FOOD BIZ has changed and all reports are excellent.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/06/09 04:38 AM

What about the drinks, Pete? Priorities, man!
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Postby BlueEyed Videot » 01/06/09 04:47 AM

I hope beyond all hope that whatever arrangement occurs, it favors the preservation of the Magic Castle. Had far too many good times there when I lived in L.A. and was a magician member. Fond memories to last a lifetime.

Let the magic continue!
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Postby Max Maven » 01/06/09 04:47 AM

Richard Kaufman wrote:If anyone really knows what's going on, they're not saying right now.


Precisely -- for the simple reason that nobody really knows what's going on, including the parties directly involved. The situation is in flux. I can think of about two dozen scenarios that could play out from here.

Obviously, there will be more information before long. But, for now, it's all speculative. Rumors have been rampant, and many of them have been contradictory. For the time being, I'd suggest people simply wait as the various processes and situations continue to develop.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/06/09 08:10 AM

Well I will be there from 15-18th Jan and look forward to trying the new food. Gotta be better. The only thing I would eat before was the steak!

:)
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/06/09 01:49 PM

I agree, Max... it's nothing any of us have any control over and unless one of us has TONS OF CASH and wants to buy it... it's best to just wait and enjoy the club.
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Postby wkitwizard » 01/06/09 07:33 PM

Not surprised at all. I created a lengthy thread a while back, when my wife and I visited the Castle and were totally turned off by the food. Been there many times in the last thirty years, but last year was an unpleasant surprise. Hope it improves greatly.
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Postby David Thomas » 01/06/09 08:29 PM

Richard Hart wrote:I hope beyond all hope that whatever arrangement occurs, it favors the preservation of the Magic Castle. Had far too many good times there when I lived in L.A. and was a magician member. Fond memories to last a lifetime.

Let the magic continue!


Here here!
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Postby Terrence » 01/08/09 10:19 AM

For those of you that have MC Forum Access, here is an update from Robert Lamoureux.

(I don't have permission yet to post it directly.)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/08/09 11:33 AM

I'm sure Bob won't mind if I quote this part, because it gives the basic reason the Magic Castle and AMA were able to lock MFB out:

"First, as many of you may have heard or seen, the food and beverage operations at the Castle are once again under our management and control. Effective January 1st, the waiters, bartenders, cooks, reservationists, events personnel all of the employees and managers at the Magic Castle are AMA employees and none are employees of Magic Food and Beverage. The four year contract between AMA and MFB terminated on December 31, 2008 and it was the decision of your Board of Directors, based on the recommendation of AMA management, not to renew or extend the MFB contract."

MFB's first pass at convincing a judge to allow them back in was tossed out of court on January 6.

I hope someone has asked Bob for permission to quote the entire message here.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/08/09 04:11 PM

One rumor floating around the Castle last night (Wednesday, 12/7) is that the sale of the property will be complete -- i.e. close of Escrow -- within 48 hours. We'll see.
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Postby Terrence » 01/08/09 06:09 PM

Pete --- I'm sure you meant Wednesday (1/7)... :)
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Postby mrgoat » 01/08/09 06:29 PM

I get there on the 15th, I hope it's still there...
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Postby Ruben Padilla » 01/08/09 07:00 PM

This just emailed to me...

"An Update From Robert Lamoureux

A lot has happened at the Magic Castle in the last week and I wanted to bring everyone up to date with as much information as possible so that we can all be on the same page as we begin the New Year.

First, as many of you may have heard or seen, the food and beverage operations at the Castle are once again under our management and control. Effective January 1st, the waiters, bartenders, cooks, reservationists, events personnel all of the employees and managers at the Magic Castle are AMA employees and none are employees of Magic Food and Beverage. The four year contract between AMA and MFB terminated on December 31, 2008 and it was the decision of your Board of Directors, based on the recommendation of AMA management, not to renew or extend the MFB contract.

You may have noticed some changes already a new interim menu was introduced when the Castle opened for business on January 2nd which featured reduced prices on some items and heralded the return of Beef Wellington and a popular dessert, tirimasu. Also, when you order an entre, a dinner salad and garden vegetables are now included, with no need to order them a la carte and pay separately for them. Much of the new interim menu is the same as it has been over the last year, but there will be more changes coming.

You will undoubtedly notice that a lot of the faces are the same at the Castle. Many of the MFB employees had been AMA employees for many years before the MFB contract went into effect in 2005 and we were delighted to welcome them back to the AMA family. Many of the newer MFB employees asked to sign up with the AMA to continue to work at the Castle and most all who applied have been hired - you will see very few new faces, although there are some. Please join me in welcoming them all back. However some personnel changes were made and you will no longer see Andy Ulloa, Dave Williams, Alfred Mesa or Lesley Comfort, among others, working at the Castle.

You may also notice some changes in security at the Castle. MFBs security personnel, including Omar Puga, are no longer present at the Castle, or permitted on the premises. We have Jim Bentley to thank for handling our new security arrangements with a crew of off-duty LA County Sheriffs deputies and off-duty Los Angeles Police officers. These gentlemen may not be immediately noticeable they are all very fit, well-dressed, polite gentlemen who are recognizable only by the earbuds in their ears and the badges on their belts discreetly covered behind their jackets. Unfortunately, it was necessary to have a large contingent of our own security present at the Castle beginning in the very early hours of January 1st and they have been on duty 24/7 over the last week. They will continue to be present for the near term; hopefully our need for them will diminish as time passes and the transition is accepted by MFB. We all owe a great deal of thanks, also, to the on-duty LAPD officers and supervisory personnel of the LAPD Hollywood Station who were needed each day during the first few days to assist our own security personnel in preventing interference from Mr. Ulloa, Mr. Williams and MFB during the changeover. If you see any of these fine gentlemen in blue uniforms at the Castle over the next few days, be sure to give them a smile and wave they are there to help ensure that the Castle functions normally without any problems.

The logistical tasks were enormous as we transitioned to our own food and beverage operations beginning late on December 31st. We have Mark Felicetti, Dave Clement and many, many other AMA employees and volunteers to thank for working virtually around the clock for days to ensure that we were self-reliant and prepared to re-open on January 2nd and continue with normal operations at the Castle without any MFB personnel or equipment. We have purchased and installed new telephone equipment, new Posi-touch hardware and software, new reservations systems, new dining room chairs (which look the same as the MFB chairs), new safes, new computers and new furniture in the offices. All of the locks in the building were changed in the early morning hours of January 1st and MFB is no longer in any of the spaces which we had permitted them to use in the AMA offices on the third floor over the last four years.

There have, of course, been a few glitches over the last week as we switched over to new systems and hardware the new telephone system has needed some fine tuning, the reservation system needed breaking in and systems are being changed and refined as we move along. Please forgive the occasional hiccups as we move through the tasks necessary to switch over to our own systems, but know that everyone is working hard and long hours to make things better for our members and guests.

The transition has not been without legal controversy, of course. On the morning of Tuesday, January 6, 2009, Andy Ulloa and MFBs attorneys appeared in Department 86 of the L.A. County Superior Court to apply for a Temporary Restraining Order and OSC re Preliminary Injunction against the AMA. Mr. Ulloa and his attorneys requested that the Court issue an immediate restraining order prohibiting the AMA from: (1) continuing to conduct its own food and beverage operations at the Castle; (2) continuing to bar Andy Ulloa, Dave Williams and other MFB personnel from access to the Castle; (3) removing MFBs furniture, fixtures and equipment from the Castle; and (4) requiring that the AMA return the food and beverage operations to MFBs control. The AMAs General Counsel, George Juarez, filed written opposition papers and argued on behalf of the AMA at the hearing together with our Assistant Secretary, Maurice Newman. Im pleased to report that the Court turned down all of MFBs requests and refused to schedule any further injunctive relief proceedings, as requested by Mr. Ulloa. Copies of the relevant pleadings and a transcript of the hearing will be posted soon for anyone to review the details of the factual and legal arguments made by MFBs attorneys and George Juarez on AMAs behalf

There will undoubtedly be further legal proceedings as the AMA seeks to recover damages from MFB and MFB asserts its claims against the AMA; but these issues will be over money and not about control of the Castles operations. We are confident that at the end of these proceedings the AMA will be entitled to recover substantial damages against MFB, Mr. Ulloa and others.

Many have asked about the status of the sale of the Glover Family property and our lease negotiations. Unfortunately, there are conflicting reports at this point about what is happening with the property sale. We know that the sale of all 10 acres of the Glover family property, including the Magic Castle, Yamashiro, the Magic Castle Hotel and apartment properties, was in progress to a group lead by Sean MacPherson and was scheduled to close on December 31, 2008. As I have reported in the past, a negotiating team selected by the Board of Directors had been in discussions with Mr. MacPherson for some time and we had reached the basics of an agreement in principal for a new lease for the AMA on terms that would have been very satisfactory. The terms of the new lease included that AMA would once again be in charge of all operations at the Castle, including food and beverage operations. The details of the new lease were yet to be finalized pending the closing of the sale transaction.

The sale did not close on December 31, 2008 and we have had conflicting reports as to the reasons. It appears that disputes have arisen between Mr. MacPherson and his group as the buyers and Tom Glover and Andy Ulloa on behalf of the Glover Family as the sellers. We anticipate that litigation is likely in the next few days between the parties over the status of the sale, but the AMA will not be a part of that litigation. We have developed a very good relationship with Sean MacPherson and we anticipate that if, as he believes, the sale ultimately goes through, we will be able to quickly get back to finalizing a new lease for the AMA. In the meantime, we have a written agreement with Tom Glover on behalf of the Glover family that the AMA will remain at the Magic Castle on a month-to-month basis until the land sale issues are resolved.

There is much more to the story, but as we will be in litigation with MFB and Mr. Ulloa, and there will be litigation over the land sale, I cannot provide some of those details. But for now, the future of the AMA and the Castle is secure and we are thrilled to once again be able to coordinate all activities at the Castle under AMA control for the benefit of our members and guests. As further developments occur, Ill keep you updated!"
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Postby Donal Chayce » 01/09/09 03:28 PM

Thanks for sharing that, Ruben.
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Postby r paul wilson » 01/09/09 04:05 PM

One question remains unanswered. What happens if the sale DOES fall through and the land still belongs to the Glovers? The AMA seems to have burned those bridges, apparently for good reason. The question is, have they bet the house on the new owner completing the purchase?

P
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/09 04:24 PM

Hmmmmm.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/09/09 04:53 PM

On the Castle forum there's a quite attributed to Tom Glover. He said, "Myself, Milt Larsen and the Magic Castle will be with us a long time."

I would guess that Tom probably wasn't happy with the situation anyway, and would not change anything if "this" sale falls thru.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 01/09/09 05:00 PM

Two things:

1) I for one appreciate the fact that Robert took the time to reach out to the membership in order to inform them to the extent that he is allowed. I think this shows genuine concern and respect for the membership, and this action alone make me feel more confident that the board has considered the membership in it's decision making. So, thank you Robert.

2) Beef Wellington is back. WOOT!!!!!

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Postby Randy » 01/09/09 08:03 PM

As a Magic Castle member I too appreciate the message and info n Roberts announcement. I do, however, have concerns on the issue of having a "large contingent of security" that needs to now be present at the Castle. Just what are they thinking could possibly happen? The only heat I hope people may be packin' is some flash paper.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/09 08:15 PM

There has already been one altercation between MFB and AMA employees over the offices. A lawsuit was filed and the AMA lost that particular round. Now that MFB's lease is up, the AMA feels it is on stronger ground. The security is, I'm guessing, there to prevent MFB from sneaking in and attempting to change locks or remove equipment.
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