Castro Italian Restaurant Vico Cavone Abruptly Closes Amidst Lawsuit Between Owners

Castro Italian Restaurant Vico Cavone Abruptly Closes Amidst Lawsuit Between OwnersPhoto: Steven Bracco/Hoodline
Steven Bracco
Published on November 06, 2023

After nearly two years in the Castro, Italian restaurant Vico Cavone (4248 18th St.) abruptly closed on Sunday amidst a lawsuit between two of its owners.

Vico Cavone celebrated its last day in business during its Sunday "The Queens Brunch."

Vico Cavone was opened in December 2021 in the former Firewood space by co-owners Alessandro Raimondi, Sanaa Hams, and Giancarlo Esposito.

Raimondi shared the news of Vico Cavone's closure with a statement posted in the restaurant's windows and on social media.

Vico Cavone at 4248 18th St. is now closed. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

"At least I tried," wrote Raimondi. "Sure, I made mistakes while getting Vico Cavone off the ground. It's unavoidable."

"But I learned from my mistakes and I adapted," added Raimondi. "I did not let my ego drive me to the sidelines, from where one can complain safely under one's breath about the sacrifices every serious small business owner must make."

Public records indicate a lawsuit was filed by Hams with the Superior Court of California in April against Raimondi, his husband and attorney Daniel Stelter, and the restaurant's corporate entity Partenopea LLC.

Vico Cavone co-owner Alessandro Raimondi (center) and his husband Daniel Stelter (right). | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

The lawsuit states that Hams contributed $75,000 to Raimondi and Partenopea LLC and was given a 45% share of the restaurant and a 35% share of its profits.

Hams claims that she worked 13-hour days, six days a week without salary or compensation other than tips. Hams alleges that Raimondi withheld tips from herself and other employees.

Hams also alleges that Raimondi refused access to accounting, financial documents, security cameras, hiring practices, and viewing the tip spreadsheet along with mismanaging the restaurant.

Vico Cavone co-owners Sanaa Hams (left) and Alessandro Raimondi (right) (June 2021). | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Additionally, Hams claims the agreement was set up by Raimondi's husband Daniel Stelter who is an intellectual property lawyer with Arent Fox Schiff and is not licensed to practice law in California. 

Hams also claims that Raimondi and Stelter "commingled the funds, assets of Partenopea LLC with their own personal assets, diverted corporate funds and assets for their own personal use, disregarded legal formalities and failed to maintain an arm’s length relationship with Partenopea."

At one point, Hams claims she offered to either buy out Raimondi's shares of the restaurant or sell her shares.

Due to these allegations, Hams requested a judicial dissolution of the agreement between Hams and Partenopea LLC.

 

In response to the lawsuit, Raimondi filed a cross-complaint denying all of Hams' claims. Raimondi's lawsuit alleges that on two occasions in 2022 Hams failed to activate the security systems which resulted in the restaurant being burglarized.

The lawsuit also alleges that Hams backed out of overseeing a 2022 New Year's Eve event at Vico Cavone while Raimondi was in Italy, resulting in the event being canceled.

Raimondi also claims that around January 6, 2023 Hams wrote herself a $400 check from Partenopea's bank account.

From February to April, the lawsuit explains that Raimondi and Hams attempted to seek terms for Hamas' departure. However, they were unable to come to terms.

According to the lawsuit, Hams has not been present at Vico Cavone since a confrontation between the two co-owners on April 7.

As of publication, the lawsuit has not been calendared for a hearing date. Update 11/7: The case is currently scheduled for a 9 a.m. hearing on December 12 at SF Superior Court (400 McAllister St.).

Inside Vico Cavone on its last day. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

In response to the lawsuit, Raimondi stated, "My biggest mistake was to trust the wrong person to be my business partner. After just over a year, she simply walked away from the business."

"Then under the spell of a manipulative lawyer, she brought a lawsuit that I believe is frivolous and is designed to close the business and to force me into personal bankruptcy."

Raimondi stated that his legal bills are approaching $250,000. "It is hard enough to run a brand new business in this hostile city," said Raimondi. "But under the unrelenting pressure brought on by this lawsuit and by her lawyer, no business could possibly survive."

It's for that reason Raimondi explains that Vico Cavone is closing. "It is proof that no good deed goes unpunished," said Raimondi. "It is a hard lesson for me to learn."

"I opened this business with purity of heart and I close it with purity of heart," added Raimondi. "What lies in others' hearts that motivates them towards wickedness is not for me to understand."

Alessandro Raimondi addresses the crowd on Sunday. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

On Sunday, Raimondi thanked everyone involved in the restaurant including friends, family, and staff for their support during Vico Cavone's nearly two years in the Castro.

"It is my only regret that the jobs created by this restaurant have now come to an end," said Raimondi. " My staff has been loyal, adaptable, jovial, and willing to help me be better."

Looking towards the future Raimondi says he does not know what's next.

"[T]he spirit within me that brought Vico Cavone to life survives," said Raimondi.