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  1. Food

Business split resolves CopperFish dispute

Published Sep. 23, 2014

The dispute that had embroiled popular Tampa restaurant CopperFish has been resolved.

Former SoHo Hospitality partners Kevin Enderle and Chas Bruck announced Tuesday that they have split from partner Gordon Davis to form the new BE-1 Concepts. BE-1 will maintain full ownership of Boca Kitchen Bar and Market and Ciro's Speakeasy and Supper Club, while Davis will maintain ownership of CopperFish Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar. This follows an acrimonious period that culminated in a lawsuit filed in August by landlord Howard Park Properties (Davis) against SoHo for failure to pay rent.

In the next two weeks, Enderle and Bruck will open three new concepts in Winter Park. As for their Tampa locations, which includes the management of Bizou Brasserie at Le Méridien hotel, things remain status quo.

"Moving forward, we will own Boca and Ciro's and all future concepts," Enderle said. "And there are really no changes at those properties, although we are finishing a remodel at Ciro's with a new secret bookcase door that the History Channel put in, and we put in a grab-and-go case at Boca and are refreshing the menu."

Enderle says that with the dissolution of this business relationship, all lawsuits against SoHo will be dropped, and that the breakup was mutually agreeable.

"(Davis) wasn't active with us on a day-to-day basis. He wanted to retire, and what we are doing is a lot of work."

As for the future of CopperFish, Gordon said, "My wife, Lorena, and I are going to turn it around and bring up food and service quality. We're going to keep it really simple. The oyster bar needs to be really casual and fun, and the dining room has to be done correctly. I think it has been too expensive, and it needs to be more user friendly and value oriented. It has lacked a lot of management attention."

Of the split, Davis said, "We had different philosophies of business. But I wish them the best."

Contact Laura Reiley at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.

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