DOCUMENT: Crime

Britney Spears's Big Bust

Pop star's failed Gotham eatery owes $400,000

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Britney Spears's Big Bust

Britney's Big BustPop star's failed Gotham eatery owes $400,000

APRIL 7--Along with the crappy food, poor service, and trail of disappointed diners, Britney Spears's now-shuttered Manhattan restaurant also left behind nearly $400,000 in unpaid bills, The Smoking Gun has learned.

According to an April 2 bankruptcy court filing, the eatery Nyla owes money to more than two dozen creditors, ranging from a Brooklyn beverage wholesaler ($864.27) to a General Motors subsidiary that built the restaurant's sweeping staircase ($101,000). A schedule of creditors for Nyla (incorporated as Pinky Enterprises in recognition of Spears's nickname) was filed by Morris Moinian, the firm's managing partner, in connection with an ongoing bankruptcy court proceeding. Last October, a trio of Nyla creditors filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against the company, citing unpaid bills in excess of $25,000.

Moinian's list identifies an additional 14 creditors, including the eatery's former landlord ($72,000), Con Edison ($50,406.68), and New York State's sales tax division ($4576.85). The original three creditors, who are not included on Moinian's list, have been negotiating for months to settle their claims, said Kevin Nash, the lawyer representing the businesses.

TSG spoke to a few other creditors of Nyla, which opened last June and closed after only seven months of indigestion, er, operation. Lite-Up Associates, which did electrical work for Spears's joint, is owed $45,000 and owner Peter Blau is not hopeful he'll see any of that money. "The total bill was supposed to be paid when the restaurant opened since there was going to be a lot of press and an influx of cash," the Chelsea businessman said. "It hurts business anytime you're owed that kind of money. We're a union shop. We paid all our bills and we're the ones who get stiffed."

Phil Leggio of Westchester Restaurant Supply said his firm provided Nyla with an array of equipment--china, cookware, a range--and received some payments "upfront." But Leggio, the Elmsford company's general manager, has now contacted his lawyer and is considering a lawsuit since Nyla, he said, owes him $44,822.79 (Moinian lists the debt at about $37,000). "We're not a big conglomerate," Leggio said. "It hurts, big time."

Alan Fierstein, president of Acousti log, was called in for an emergency consultation after a Nyla neighbor complained about noise emanating from the restaurant. Fierstein said that since Nyla needed a "rush job" he cut a vacation short by a day so that he could prepare a noise report. Along with a $1500 consultation fee, Fierstein was offered another enticement: an autographed picture of Britney for his teenage daughter. After completing a report which found that Nyla's noise levels were acceptable and the neighbor's complaint unwarranted, Fierstein never got paid. He eventually sued the restaurant in Manhattan Small Claims court and, days ago, received a check for $1000. While Fierstein said that he was happy to get the thousand clams, he noted that he's still waiting on that signed 8x10.

When Nyla's financial woes first surfaced late last year--at the same time her dented cans became an issue--Spears's representatives moved to distance the singer from the failing restaurant, claiming she was barely involved in the eatery. But the 21-year-old singer is one of four partners listed in licensing records at the State Liquor Authority. SLA records show that Spears's interest in Nyla was held in trust by Bert Padell, her business manager (she was 20 at the time Pinky was incorporated). (3 pages)

Click here to view Britney's backstage demands.