Stillwater Dana Point’s “Broken Coolers” Reported to County Health Department: Updated

Sharon Quirk Silva (left) and Melissa Fox (center left) next to AD-73 candidate Wendy Gariella.  DPOC secretary Anita Narayana is on the right.

Sharon Quirk Silva (left) and Melissa Fox (center left) next to AD-73 candidate Wendy Gariella. DPOC secretary Anita Narayana is on the right.

We’re not the first blog to report on the “cooler problem” that the Stillwater Dana Point Restaurant used to cancel a scheduled fundraiser for AD-73 candidate Wendy Gabriella, but we’ve taken the story a step further.

On Saturday morning, we called the restaurant’s general manager on his personal cell phone.  I said my name and said I was with the LiberalOC and quickly asked if the restaurant was open this weekend because I heard their were some “cooler problems.”  GM Matt Guzetta opted to answer the question first to say “we’re open” and then said, “who is this again?”  After realizing he was speaking to us and we asked about the cancelled fundraiser for Gabriella, he backtracked and said part of the restaurant wouldn’t be open but he wasn’t going to explain it to someone calling his personal cell phone and hung up.

How did I get his personal cell phone? It was attached to an email he sent to his boss asking for help in dealing with Gabriella’s campaign who wanted to know when they could reschedule the event that Guzetta or the restaurant’s owner did not want rescheduled.

Because the Stillwater was packed this weekend and their GM reported a “cooler” problem to a contracted party, TheLiberalOC (I should say “me”) reported the restaurant to the Orange County Health Agency this morning urging them to inspect the restaurant’s coolers as patrons may have been served food stored in inoperative coolers placing their health at risk.  The nice young lady took the information I provided and said she’s share it with her boss.

The email in question from Guzetta is below; he inadvertently copied someone from Gabriella’s campaign which is how we got it.  We have deleted that email address and Guzetta’s cell phone number:

From: Matt Guzzetta <matt@danapointstillwater.com>

Date: Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 6:10 PM Subject: Rosemarie

To: Nick Cozens <nick@cdhospitality.com>

Nick, So after speaking with Rosemarie (the lady whose event we cancelled) over the phone she showed up in the restaurant with her husband tonight. She keeps saying how “suspicious it is” left a voicemail on Edgar’s phone saying this is “fucked up” etc and knows we are playing politicos.  I told her on the phone we had to cancel the event due to unforeseen circumstances with our cooler going down and launching our restaurant this weekend as I didn’t want to come out and say “we aren’t allowing you to have this event because our boss is friends with the owner”.  I don’t think that’s a message that should come from me, especially now that I have them coming into the restaurant.  She came in today and asked if we can’t do it this week can we do it next week, or the following one (basically trying to goad me into saying we aren’t ever going to hold it). 

I need some assistance on how to handle this further as she is not going to go away and I don’t want her showing up in the restaurant each day. 

Matt Guzzetta

General Manager 

24701 Del Pravo Ave.

Dana Point, CA 92629

w: 949.661.6003

Now while the other blogs are breathlessly reporting that the Bill Brough campaign pressured the restaurant into cancelling the Gabriella event, there’s no actual evidence of this in the “smoking gun” email.

We contacted the Brough campaign for comment and they denied that the candidate had anything to do with the cancellation. Tim Clark, with the Brough campaign. said “To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Brough had nothing to do with the cancellation.  He is focused on one race.”  When asked if Brough sent a text message, Clark responded that he didn’t know.

We contacted Gabriella, who says the fundraiser was a success and that the Stillwater, where it was supposed to be, was packed during the time her fundraiser was supposed to happen.

We asked for actual proof that Brough pressured the restaurant to cancel her event and her campaign offered this statement from the fundraiser’s co-host, Rosemarie Allaire: “Bill Brough sent a text to the Stillwater contact that I was corresponding with for the event regarding cancelling the 09-14-14 Wendy Gabriella fundraiser.”

We haven’t seen the text and cannot verify its accuracy.

Regardless of which set of facts you choose to believe, what’s painfully clear is the Stillwater in Dana Point decided that “green” from a “blue” candidate wasn’t worthy of their cash register.  I sure hope the restaurant doesn’t go into the Red relying on Republican only dollars, because there are plenty of places Democrats can dine in Dana Point without patronizing this business.

  3 comments for “Stillwater Dana Point’s “Broken Coolers” Reported to County Health Department: Updated

  1. MikeM128
    September 15, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    South County is full of Red Voters. Probably just a smart business decision on their part. Most businesses are best off staying away from politics.

  2. Greg Diamond
    September 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    I actually came here to compliment your taking Stillwater at its word and acting on it. Then I read what you wrote. Of course, given your political priorities, you just had to take the opportunity to attack OJB — which (if you want to editorialize and demean) I guess you can say has indeed “breathlessly report[ed] that the Bill Brough campaign pressured the restaurant into cancelling the Gabriella event, there’s no actual evidence of this in the ‘smoking gun’ email.”

    You don’t understand what “evidence” means. This is evidence:

    … as I didn’t want to come out and say “we aren’t allowing you to have this event because our boss is friends with the owner”. I don’t think that’s a message that should come from me…

    Is it conclusive evidence? Perhaps not — although LOTS of evidence is suggestive (we call if “probative” — affective the probability that something is true) rather than “conclusive.” And if it’s not entirely conclusive, it only fails to be conclusive to the extent that Mr. Guzzetta has an alternative explanation for what he wrote. That’s pretty unlikely.

    He didn’t write something random, like “we aren’t allowing you to have this event [that you contracted for] because … our astrologer and geologist agree that the spirits from the Indian burial ground beneath us may rise up through the floorboards during that exact same time and inflict damage upon Euro-Americans.” His choice of what he “didn’t want to … say” was MUCH MORE SPECIFIC.

    The specific statement that he cited as not good for him to utter is that “the boss is friends with owner.” (We might wonder why!) And then he added that the burden to pass on that information as the apparent cause of the cancellation “shouldn’t come from [him]” — suggesting not that the statement ISN’T TRUE — in which case it shouldn’t come from ANYONE — but that it should come from someone higher-up.

    The only person higher up seems to be the owner. (Maybe the boss’s spouse or lover would count too.)

    So, it’s quite a fair inference that the directive came from the boss. Now, it could be that the boss, having presumably approved this event . suddenly decided on his own, perhaps after being visited by spirits in a dream, that he had to cancel an event. But there’s a more convincing and parsimonious likely reason: that he heard about it from someone in the Brough campaign — and who more likely from the person that is his friend?

    I would not even agree that Tim Clark “denied that the candidate had anything to do with the cancellation,” based on what you wrote. You quote him as saying: “to the best of my knowledge, Mr. Brough had nothing to do with the cancellation” and you write “when asked if Brough sent a text message, Clark responded that he didn’t know.” That’s not a denial. That’s sort of a weak, beleaguered shrug.

    (For future reference, the follow-up questions are “Did you ask him?” and, “OK, given that you DIDN’T, WILL you ask him?”)

    For someone willing to go to political war based on no evidence, or even false evidence, it’s a mystery as to why you suddenly get so needlessly meticulous here. Just kidding — it’s no mystery at all: among your political priorities, taking an unwarranted swing at “the cancer on the Party” who is trying to help elect a Democrat in AD-73, even at the cost of your own being willing to credit an obviously damaging e-mail about Brough’s campaign, which one would think would be useful in that effort!

    Pretty pathetic. Now go ahead and trot out (allegedly) various anonymous commenters to slag me. No compliment for you today after all.

    • September 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      Greg — I called the Brough campaign; you didn’t. I reported how they answered the question not just the answer. Read the email again and tell me there’s a specific tie-in of actual evidence that connects Brough to the cancellation. There isn’t. I reported that the co-host for the event was aware of a text message and phone call, both of which I cannot attest to the accuracy of claim.

      I’m not taking a swing at you and your sloppy work. I am reporting a story based on facts.

      Let’s review what you wrote: “So, it’s quite a fair inference that the directive came from the boss. Now, it could be that the boss, having presumably approved this event . suddenly decided on his own, perhaps after being visited by spirits in a dream, that he had to cancel an event.” And if “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts, it’d be Christmas every day. Your blog is fast becoming the conspiracy theory blog.

      But since your wife attended the fundraiser, how much did you contribute to the Gabriella campaign? Or was she comp’d?

      I stand by my reporting and asked Clark several times to answer the question with a definitive yes or no answer. If you we unable to pick up that he was evasive in his answer, I cannot help you.

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