Custino's Italian Restaurant will remain open for business, without a name change, despite an injunction sought by the son of its former namesake cook.
Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis Tuesday quickly dismissed the request by Angelo Custino, son of Phil Custino, who sought to close the restaurant after weeks of acrimony with Bud and Barbara Elder, who financed the eatery.
The dispute began June 26. Bud Elder, former film commission director, argued the Custinos failed to show up for work, called employees and told them not to report to work, and then proceeded to turn off utilities in what he claims was an effort to seize control of the eatery.
Elder alleges the Custinos then withdrew $1,600 from the restaurant's bank account — a claim admitted by Angelo Custino who said the withdrawal was a move to protect the business. Custino alleged the Elders embezzled money from the business — a claim they deny.
The Elders' attorney, Bill Zuhdi, told Davis his clients fully financed the restaurant, spending more than $75,000.
Both sides agreed that as of Tuesday, the partnership was dissolved — an agreement that seemed to have Davis' blessing. But Custino argued it ended June 26, while Elder said it ended this week.
Custino also asked that his family's name be removed from the eatery.
“The Custino name has been used 15 to 20 years in conjunction with fine Italian dining,” Custino said.
Davis declined that request. Zuhdi said Elder spent “significant' money on branding with the name, and would have to look at how those costs could be reimbursed if it were to be changed. Zuhdi also argued Custino is not Phil Custino's real name, adding he is actually Phil Caliendo, and changed it following legal entanglements in Chicago in the late 1980s.
Davis ruled against the name change, but ordered both sides to come up with a dissolution agreement. She also ordered Angelo Custino to relinquish control of the restaurant's Facebook page, which he took over last week.