After 13 weeks in business, Flavor Flav’s Fried Chicken in Clinton, Iowa, closed Sunday night, sparking a war of words between the rap icon and the local merchant who was his business partner.
“I’m shutting the place down because I don’t want to be involved with Flavor Flav,” said Nick Cimino, whose family owns Mama Cimino’s Pizza next door to the restaurant, a former Long John Silvers.
“I’m not supporting what Flavor Flav’s about, y’know what I’m saying?” he added.
The website TMZ.com posted an interview with the rapper, born William Drayton, on Sunday saying it was his decision to end the restaurant and the partnership.
“I had a licensing agreement with Nick Cimino and that’s all we had. It was his business to run from there, and the business was not run right,” Flavor Flav was quoted as saying. The Quad-City Times was unsuccessful in reaching Flavor Flav or his publicist Sunday night.
Cimino countered in a phone interview Sunday night with the Quad-City Times, “It wasn’t mismanaged by me. He mismanaged it right from the beginning because he didn’t know what he was doing.
“He wanted to be an active partner in the business when he didn’t even know what was going on,” Cimino added.
Flavor Flav went to the Clinton restaurant several times and told TMZ that on April 2 he found potato salad with an expiration date of Feb. 28.
“And it’s then when I realized I can’t do business with this man, and I really hope no one ate those potatoes,” he said in the interview.
Cimino countered: “We got inspected by the health department all the time. Flavor Flav’s making it up in his own little brain.”
Cimino said he felt “betrayed” that he came up with the concept, menu and plans for the restaurant and was not given credit.
“He added the spices, but I came up with the recipe,” said Cimino, who claims that Flav had never cooked chicken — with the exception of wings — until he walked in the door of his restaurant.
Cimino, who estimates that he lost $400,000 in the venture, said Flav insisted that the oil in the fryers be changed every hour, which cost $14,000 in the first week alone.
“He wouldn’t let me run my business,” Cimino said.
The rapper is now trying to take the chicken recipe to Las Vegas, where he has lived for several years. Several media outlets are reporting that Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor is set to open next month in the Riviera Hotel.
“I just feel sorry for the Riviera for getting involved with him,” Cimino said. “It’s going to be a disaster.”
He said he will be hiring a lawyer to both stop the Las Vegas opening and get him paid the 20 percent of the franchise he was promised. Cimino said Flav never registered the franchise, name or logo, and that they signed only a simple contract.
The restaurant opened Jan. 24, with the rapper entertaining the mayor and members of the Chamber of Commerce at the ribbon cutting. Lines of customers stretched for blocks in Clinton, a city of 26,000 that received national media exposure.
Trouble first began to surface when employees claimed their paychecks bounced. Cimino said it was a computer glitch with the account.
“How ... does Flavor Flav even know what’s going on when he’s in Vegas and I’m here?” Cimino said. “He just wants to get on TV and handle (stuff) that he doesn’t know anything about. He made himself look like an ass.”
Cimino also alleges that the rapper engaged in illegal activities while on the premises.
“I do not want that kind of image in the Clinton community. I’ve been in the Clinton community for seven years, and I apologize to the whole area,” Cimino said. “Me, myself and I want to apologize to the communities that I brought in such a phony to this area.”