ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Steve Paternoster, owner of Scalo Northern Italian Grill in Nob Hill, said in phone interview Thursday that he is still very much in charge of the business and that it would reopen on Feb. 10.
Scalo reportedly closed because of a water leak back in early December.
But public documents show that Scalo’s landlord, Nob Hill Investors, LLC, has filed a complaint in District Court in Bernalillo County alleging the restaurant is behind on rent; that the business that owns Scalo, Esperanza Enterprises, is facing three federal tax liens totaling more than $200,000; and that Jane Fertig, Paternoster’s estranged wife, has petitioned District Court for control of the restaurant, alleging that she had to change the locks because Paternoster had been taking money from the cash registers, from employees’ tips and had been writing himself checks from the business account.
Paternoster, who said he was calling from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, said he is still very much involved with the landmark business and is in the process of hiring staff.
“In the past 13 years, since I took it back over, I have taken nine $400 paychecks to ensure the restaurant was first,” Paternoster said.
According to Paternoster, Fertig asked him to step out of the way a few years back so she could run the restaurant the way she wanted to, a decision he said he went with.
Fertig’s attorney, Jedidiah Glazener, declined comment Thursday.
“About taking money from the cash register, it’s kind of hard to steal from yourself,” Paternoster said. “I paid for that restaurant in full, and when I did, I was one day early and never missed a payment.”
Paternoster said he is still paying his liquor license on time but that it has been hard to do with no money.
He said 100 percent of Scalo’s stock belongs to him.
Paternoster would not comment on allegations of drug use, saying he needed to talk with his attorney.
“Ten years ago I lost my daughter (to an overdose), and after her death I began to drink heavily,” he said. “I am sorry for my mistakes, but as of right now, I am rebuilding Scalo and trying to get everything back on track.”
Paternoster said he checked himself into rehab in late December and has less than ten days to complete before he leaves.