The owners of the upscale Club Sushi restaurant in Hermosa Beach were being pursued today, accused of using their business partners' personal information to obtain fraudulent loans and credit with banks and creditors, police said.
Investigators were trying to locate Gregory and Melissa Alan,
Warrants were issued for their arrests after the District Attorney's Office charged the couple with forgery and grand theft. In addition to allegedly obtaining fraudulent loans and credit with banks, they are charged with obtaining fraudulent credit with restaurant equipment and appliance suppliers, Gaglia said.
The amount of fraud continues to mount and has not been tabulated, but Gaglia said it is "several hundred thousand dollars" or possibly close to $1 million.
The couple shut down the Hermosa Beach restaurant at Hermosa and Pier avenues within the last month. The restaurant is vacant and gutted of giant appliances,
"These guys were using their partners' information to apply for credit," Gaglia said. "(Gregory Alan) sold all the equipment and they are just gone. He left in the middle of the night."
The couple once was deemed among the top business leaders in the state. In 2002, the Business Advisory Council named Gregory Alan as one of the top five business owners in California. The council gave Alan its National Leadership Award and appointed him to serve as an honorary chairman on the council.
According to the Club Sushi Web site, the Hermosa Beach restaurant opened July 3, 1996 after two years of planning.
"Opening night buzzed with excitement as a huge turnout of enthusiastic dinner guests left little room to move around," the site says. "People were intrigued that they could order from our incredibly fresh sushi bar items, while also being able to choose from an extensive and diverse dinner menu."
The restaurant, the site said, became an instant success, developing a loyal customer base during its 13 years. Along the way, the South Bay newspaper, Easy Reader, named it "Restaurant of the Year," honoring it as having the "Best Happy Hour" and "Best Sushi Bar." The 2007 Zagat Survey named it "Best Unique Concept."
The couple opened Club Sushi Hollywood at the Arclight on Sunset Boulevard earlier this year. BuzzofLa.com, a restaurant review site, described the restaurant as huge inside:
"The space is cool and minimalist-modern, with two incredible bars; the space is truly huge, great for large parties and events. Guests have their choice of three dining spaces: a formal dining room, a casual outdoor patio, or an energetic sushi bar with adjacent table seating. The space fills quickly over the course of an evening. The sushi bar becomes a flurry of activity, while the dining room becomes peppered with couples enjoying a delicious meal."
Although it attracted a crowd that included celebrities, the Hollywood restaurant closed its doors in July, according to customer reviews posted on the Internet.
The restaurant Web site, Eater, reported in late July that a sign on the door said "effective immediately Club Sushi is closed permanently."
Another Club Sushi had been scheduled to open in the Gaslamp District of San Diego in the summer of 2009, according to Clubsushi.com.
Police asked anyone with information about the Alan's whereabouts to contact Detective Michael Frilot at 310-318-0332.
"I don't know if they left the state, but they are nowhere to be found," Gaglia said.