Dish Flash: What Happened at Mado?

Mado (1647 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-342-2340) closed abruptly on Wednesday. Dish talked both to a co-owner, David Richards, and the chef, Brandon Baltzley, about what happened and what happens next.

Mado (1647 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 773-342-2340) closed abruptly on Wednesday. (Eater broke the story.) Dish talked to a co-owner, David Richards, about his side of the story, and to the chef, Brandon Baltzley, about his side—and his plan to buy the restaurant.

* * *

Dish: Why did things come to a head all of a sudden?
David Richards: We had the honeymoon month where it was free spending and “Whatever you need, chef.” And then it comes time to start going over numbers and what you have to do to keep the restaurant profitable.

D: Baltzley said in Eater that Mado was profitable.
DR: It just so happens that he did pull sales from one week that happened to be the weekend of Thanksgiving. A week he was out sick. That week happened to be in the margins of what we look for. I try to keep kitchen labor at 25 percent, and I try to keep my food costs at 25 percent. The kitchen payroll was high, and I texted that we need to look at that and bring it within the margins of 25 percent. But that week kitchen payroll was $3,464 and our sales that week were less than twice that. So they were around $7,000.

D: What does that translate to? Did you suggest firing people or cutting back on hours?
DR: I told him that we need to move two people specifically from full-time to part-time hourly.

D: When did your manager call you about Baltzley and the staff leaving?
DR: He told me that he had run into two fellows on the street and they said goodbye. They were leaving. He didn’t elaborate on the conversation, but what I understood was that it was just a passing sort of thing. Not a stand-and-converse sort of thing. When he got into the restaurant and saw that no one was in the kitchen, he called me.

D: So now what?
DR: I’m trying to regroup today. And see where to go.

* * *

Dish: What happened on Wednesday?
Brandon Baltzley: I got a phone call basically stating everything. I was told to fire two people. And then it changed to, well, OK, don’t fire everyone, for obvious reasons. I was told to bring them in on weekends for an hourly wage. And I thought, So you are just going to [expletive] pay them . . . for a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday. And then they will just quit.

D: What then?
BB: We had a sit-down at about 2:30. Strictly kitchen staff. We just had a discussion about what we should do. We packed up all of our personal belongings. We put away all of the perishable food product, so hopefully, they would not lose any product.

D: And then you left?
BB: The manager came in, and I told him what was happening. He agreed. He didn’t even try to talk us out of it, and I gave him my key.

D: Now what?
BB: I’m in meetings all day with investors and I’m trying to buy Mado. If everything works out, everyone who was at Mado previously will be returning. Everyone is pretty much waiting right now.

D: Is this a secret?
BB: I don’t care who knows. It’s a proposal. We don’t know if it will go through. We don’t know what will happen.

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3 years ago
Posted by kurlex

I'm inclined to believe Baltzley's story because I recall Richards doing almost the exact same thing with 2 other restaurants that he "took over," an Asian dumpling place and an Italian place (can't remember the names, but the story sounds familiar in both cases.) Why anyone would work with this man is beyond my understanding.

3 years ago
Posted by Richard D.

I worked for Mr. Richards and his partner Lissy Peace. They bounced everyones paychecks and than lied about the situation. These people are a well documented nightmare.

3 years ago
Posted by undisclosed

Rob left Mado for a reason. And it wasn't Brandon.

3 years ago
Posted by j.d.

I too worked for Richards at Sweets & Savories, however I can't say whether or not my check would have bounced because he flat out refused to pay me when I quit after 2 weeks of constant verbal & physical (he threw a plate of eggs at me!) abuse. He and Lissy Peace then lied to the IL Dept. of Labor, even coming up with fudged documents "proving" they didn't owe me money. "Nightmare" doesn't begin to describe David & Lissy.

3 years ago
Posted by unnecessary

I as well worked with David Richards, for over a year. Liar cheat and thief. Bounced checks, staged dishwashers, cut off by produce, fish and meat companies for not paying bills, bis-quick pancake mix, bought ground beef called it kobe, used minors lobster base and calls it bisque. Didn't pay his wait staff, caught stealing their tips, bought liquor and wine retail cus he was cut off by wine companies, poured Smirnoff into goose bottles, put barcellos out of business, couldn't pay employees but can pay a personal masseuse to come to his house and rub his hairy chubby back. The man is abusive and pathetic. Saddest part of it all he can't cook! makes a living on a dozen or so half assed dishes he has stolen over the years.

3 years ago
Posted by not needed

I as well worked with David Richards, for over a year. Liar cheat and thief. Bounced checks, staged dishwashers, cut off by produce, fish and meat companies for not paying bills, bis-quick pancake mix, bought ground beef called it kobe, used minors lobster base and calls it bisque. Didn't pay his wait staff, caught stealing their tips, bought liquor and wine retail cus he was cut off by wine companies, poured Smirnoff into goose bottles, put barcellos out of business, couldn't pay employees but can pay a personal masseuse to come to his house and rub his hairy chubby back. The man is abusive and pathetic. Saddest part of it all he can't cook! makes a living on a dozen or so half assed dishes he has stolen over the years.

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