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Operators of The Must Speak Up About Surprise Shut-Down

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Photo by Sean_Yoda_Rouse via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr


Photo by Sean_Yoda_Rouse via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
Operators of The Must, a popular Downtown wine bar, were doubly surprised this holiday weekend when what they thought was a robbery turned out to be an allegedly unexpected eviction.

Because of the holiday long weekend, only speculation about what happened between the Must owners, Coly Den Haan and Rachel Thomas, the mysterious "new owner," and neighboring Weeneez owner Julie Rico could take place, and it did so in spades in the comments section of a Blogdowntown article. There, Must employees, patrons, readers (many who include links to pertinent documents regarding the property), and Rico herself, went to war in words.

Not only are the courts open today, so that Den Haan and Thomas can pursue the matter through legal channels, but they also chose to speak out about the "heinous" events of this weekend.

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They claim they were operating under a legal agreement with Rico and Sid Carter, and today issued a statement about the validity of their lease and their take on being ousted without warning.

"This agreement is valid until January, 2012 with an option to extend for 5 years thereafter," reads the statement on their website. "No representative of The Must received any prior notice that anything was going to happen."

Here's their full statement, via a PR representative:

On November 5th, 2008 Coly Den Haan and Rachel Thomas, owners of the The Must, entered into an operating/lease agreement with Sid Carter and Julie Rico, owners of Weeneez, LLC. This agreement is valid until January, 2012 with an option to extend for 5 years thereafter. The Must has not breached the contract in any way. Due to Weeneez' numerous breaches of the agreement, The Must filed for arbitration March 11, 2010. No representative of The Must received any prior notice that anything was going to happen. It paid its rent as usual on June 30. It locked its doors as usual at 2:00 a.m. on July 3rd. The move-out occurred July 3rd at approximately 2:45am. Julie Rico, Sid Carter and the supposed, "new owner", David Holtzman, hired movers to strip The Must of everything including furniture, wine, food, computers and documents. The owners, Den Haan and Thomas were notified by their restaurant manager, Casey Irvine, the next morning that The Must had been stripped of everything. Den Haan and Thomas were not notified of the apparent changes in ownership of Weeneez LLC.

The Must is currently seeking relief within the California judicial system. Obviously this heinous act, which was committed during one of the largest holiday weekends of the year leaves The Must with no choice but to wait until the holiday is over in order to remedy this unfortunate situation.

"The Must is a manifestation of a beautiful vision that Coly and I had for a neighborhood bar. We wanted to create a safe haven for everyone who ever had anything to do with The Must. Our employees, our community, we are a family. No matter what, no matter who, no one can take that away from us. We've created something very special, we LOVE seeing the usual suspects, the birthdays, anniversary parties, etc.

The Must is Coly, Rachel, Casey, and Eric, our employees and our community. We are not going anywhere, we will always be downtown. This IS our home."

Thank you for your continued support.