On February 13 the feud escalated when the former partners met with their attorneys. To Onstott's and his lawyer Wilcox's surprise, Milton "Skip" Ohlsen also took a seat at the table. According to Onstott and Wilcox, Ohlsen claimed he had purchased Red's contents, as well as its name, from Apazeller and said he intended to "lease" everything back to Apazeller. "Skip tried to insinuate himself into this," says Wilcox. "He threatened to come with a truck and haul all the equipment off. I said, 'I don't know who's inviting you from a legal perspective, but go ahead!'

"He would not tell us the exact amount he apparently paid, only that it was around $50,000," continues Wilcox. "I said, 'Where did the money go?' They said it went to pay attorneys' fees. To me, that has a bad smell to it."

Ohlsen has made a name for himself as a mixed martial arts promoter and a Democratic Party consultant, though some now question those credentials. (See Chad Garrison's January 23 article "Phantom Punch.") "First and foremost," says Ohlsen in a voicemail message to RFT, "I would prefer not to be involved in any of your stories and I would appreciate [if] you guys would respect my privacy. Second of all, as far as Contemporary Foods goes, no, I have not invested any money in Contemporary Foods. Yes, I like the food at the restaurant, but as far as the service goes there, no comment."

Apazeller declines to comment on any arrangement he may have with Ohlsen.

On February 25, at about 2 p.m., Apazeller sent the staff home and locked up Red until further notice. Meanwhile its landlord, Jeff Edwards, had issued Red an eviction notice and filed a lawsuit demanding rent and possession of the premises. Edwards did not return several calls for comment.

Both Onstott and Apazeller vowed Red would return. Explains Onstott, "It's like Judge Garvey said: 'While you guys are arguing, Rome is burning.'"

Red has since reopened; Apazeller says he's in charge.

Contact the authorkristen.hinman@riverfronttimes.com

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