Local

Restaurant family feud playing out

Monday, June 16, 2008

A well-known businessman who once held a dynasty of restaurants in the Houston area is now involved in a family feud. Tony Vallone, the one-time owner of restaurants 'The Grotto' and "Anthony's,' is in a court battle with his own son.

It began as a place of fine dining and a place to be seen. The success of Tony's began other Vallone restaurants, including Grotto and La Griglia, which were later sold to Landry's restaurant. But it also began a rift between father and son that is now in court.

Joey Vallone claims he's owed more than a million dollars in privately held Vallone stock, pledged as collateral to launch his Dallas restaurant. The shares were on the verge of being foreclosed on when the elder Vallone paid off the loan and took back the stock.

Tony Vallone, tesfitied Monday, that, "He (Joey) never claimed to me he owned those shares. The first time was when legal action began. He said, 'I want whatever you gave my brother.' It's unjust, wrong and a very difficult situation. It's hard, very hard. It's a heartbreak."

But Joey Vallone testified that he's upset as well. About his Dallas restaurant, he testified, "He (father) told me I had to sell, that I was running the restaurant into the ground, that I was no good at the restaurant business."

His attorney then asked, "Did you ever tell anyone that you'd give up your stock if your dad would pay off the loan to Compass Bank?"

Joey Valone answered, "No. I just want my fair share of the stock, whatever the law allows."

Joey Vallone left the family business years ago. Now, both sides are trying to minimize damage of private matters being made public, so much so that a question involving greeting cards was withdrawn. The case could go to the jury by the end of the week.

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