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Monday, May 5, 2014

Rraz Room Sues Nikko Hotel and Singer Michael Feinstein for Alleged Racism

Posted By on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 2:04 PM

click to enlarge The Rraz Room in its San Francisco iteration
  • The Rraz Room in its San Francisco iteration

The Rraz Room, a nightclub formerly housed in Union Square's Hotel Nikko, has moved. Boy has it moved. The hotspot is now esconsed within a Ramada in New Hope, Pennsylvania

It is, per its website, located "in the heart of New Hope." So there's that. 

There's also a nasty lawsuit back here in San Francisco, filed April 24, in which the Rraz Room's management allege multiple breaches of multiple contracts, embezzlement, and, most jarringly, racism against the hotel and Gershwin-centric piano entertainer Michael Feinstein, who currently operates the eponymous Feinstein's at the Nikko there. 

Rraz Entertainment -- which last operated in the lobby of the Hotel Nikko on Dec. 31, 2012, and filed an initial lawsuit in that year -- claims its erstwhile landlords penned dates into a contract after the fact.

But that's just the opening number in a symphony of squalid complaints. 

The current New Hope residents claim they left $750,000 back here in San Francisco on property improvements, including a stage and other "tangible property." They allege they were "systematically cheated" for the course of five years on management fees. And they've titled an entire section of their suit "Racism by Defendants." 

Prior to being handed a notice of termination in February 2012, Rraz Room management claims it was urged to reduce its lineup of Rythym & Blues acts by Nikko general manager Anna Marie Presutti because "she and the Nikko defendants did not want Rraz to attract a certain 'demographic' that R&B acts were drawing." This was inferred as a Donald Sterling-like request to limit the number of black people walking through hotel doors and, per the suit, was refused. 

The suit goes on to claim that, "Presutti informed independent witnesses that the reason she and the Hotel Nikko defendants were dissatisfied with Rraz was that Rraz booked too many R&B acts, i.e. too many Black acts." 

The document also alleges that Presutti canceled a KBLX radio-sponsored Sunday morning brunch as it was leading to members of the aforementioned demographic group attending the premises. 

Rraz claims Feinstein landing its former digs for a nightclub is tied to management's desire to "appeal mainly to a White audience by presenting mainly White acts." 

The suit goes on to name a litany of alleged racist and homophobic actions by Presutti, including poor treatment of black musicians and base statements about our black Commander-in-Chief. 

It also accuses Feinstein and Presutti of orchestrating "a conspiracy" to oust Rraz, insinuating an alleged mole named Jessica Poli into employment at the club where, per the legal document, she appropriated confidential files and performer contracts. 

The plaintiffs are requesting damages -- and predictably plenty of them -- via 20 causes of action. 

Messages for Feinstein and Poli with Feinstein's at the Nikko have not been returned. A call to Presutti has also not yet been returned. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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