Ousted Wine and Roses Manager Takes Back Reins After Legal Battle
UPPER WEST SIDE —The former manager of Columbus Avenue bar Wine and Roses who was booted by her investors in 2010 has regained control after a court settlement restored her to sole ownership.
Jennifer Klein, a former model who also owns the nearby Dakota Bar, returned as manager of Wine and Roses this May, after paying investors $80,000 to cover existing debts from outside vendors in exchange for increasing her ownership stake from 21 percent to 100 percent, according to court documents.
"My motto is: drink wine, be happy," Klein told DNAinfo after the settlement, adding that she's been hard at work restoring the bar between West 73rd and 74th streets to its original state, including reupholstering, changing bar stools, repainting the walls and replacing the aging outdoor furniture.
The bar had been closed for several weeks in May during the legal battle.
"I have to build this back, I have to win people back," added Klein, who added that as a result of the legal battle, she's considering changing the name of the business to "Jennifer's Wine and Roses," complete with a new awning.
Klein's return to the bar follows a legal battle with investors Cindy Guyer, Jon Gruen, Bruce Galloway, and Fern Zelekowitz, who together held a 74 percent stake in the business and collectively invested $350,000. The investors fired Klein in July 2010, four years after the bar opened, claiming she was mismanaging the business.
Klein sued the four investors, arguing they wrongfully removed her and maligned her character. She sued Galloway and Guyer for $1 million each, as well as unnamed damages and more than $100,000 in back pay, according to court documents.
She alleged that investors held secret meetings to "slowly and illegally conspire against her" and "seize the business of Wine and Roses, take its assets for their own personal use and ruin [Klein's] investment in the business,” the lawsuit said.
The lawyer representing the investors did not immediately return a request for comment.
Klein said she's starting fresh, including removing a chandelier and re-hanging a series of orange shades that were part of the original decor.
She's also changing the focus of the bar, looking to cater more to women of the neighborhood who have free time in the afternoons. That includes introducing private wine-tasting classes and opportunities for women to host events at the bar, she said.
She plans to eventually add lunch to the bar menu, which currently begins food service at 4 p.m. The current menu features two dozen wines by the glass as well as 30 to 40 bottles, as well as a variety of cheese plates, salads and entrees, Klein said.
Klein said while the legal battle has prevented her from opening other locations, once things are settled, she plans to hunt for more space.
"I should have 20 by now," she said.