Questions raised following charitable Boca Raton event.
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — The owner of the famed “Katz’s Delicatessen” in New York City says his business has absolutely no relationship with the “Red Meat Lover’s Club,” a Delray Beach-based men’s only group that promoted Katz’s involvement in a charitable event earlier this month. Katz’s says it was merely hired as a caterer. The recipient of the charity, The Selfless Love Foundation, told BocaNewsNow.com that it has so far received no funds from the event.
“Evan Darnell paid us $10,000 for 300 pounds of meat,” said Jake Dell, Katz’s owner. “He purchased a catering package online that included two carvers flying to Boca Raton for the event. He paid us using his name and the (name of his club). The two were interchangeable.”
The “Platinum” package is offered on the Katz Delicatessen website.
Dell spoke to BocaNewsNow.com after several readers contacted BocaNewsNow.com to report that the Red Meat Lover’s Club — founded by Darnell — is operating without a business license in Palm Beach County, and that the “club” did not have authority from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to sell food. Public records searches verify the claims.
“If they don’t have a license at all,” said Florida DBPR Communications Director Patrick Fargason, “that would be a violation. A license is required by law.”
“Anyone or any business that does not pay the business tax is subject to civil actions and penalties,” wrote Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne M. Gannon in an email to BocaNewsNow.com. “Penalties include court costs, reasonable attorney fees (and) additional administrative costs incurred as a result of collection efforts.”
Darnell, who did not respond to several requests for information, clarification or an estimate of money raised for “Selfless Love,” charged between $96 and $346 for entrance to the event, with the higher prices including alcohol and meat “to go.” Meat was also sold by The Red Meat Lover’s Club for $49.37 a pound. At $10,000 for 300 lbs, meat should cost $33.33 per pound. The RMLC pricing represents a profit of $16.04 per pound at the charitable event.
All selling was by RMLC, not Katz’s, which was merely there for customer service. Jake Dell attended to supervise.
“We are not a partner,” said Dell. “We are a caterer. We had to squash some of (the RMLC’s) promotions and advertising. We were very, very careful with this. We kept telling (Darnell) that we are not partners with you.”
The Red Meat Lover’s Club is registered as a “for profit” LLC with Florida’s Secretary of State.
Despite its “for profit” status, The Red Meat Lover’s Club was permitted to operate as a homeowner’s “club” for nearly a year at “Seven Bridges,” an under construction community in West Delray Beach where Darnell owns a home. Blurring the line between where an HOA ends and “for profit” starts, the RMLC was given access to HOA resources, facilities and email advertisements. The company that runs the HOA’s restaurant — subsidized by the Homeowner’s Association — is listed as a sponsor of the RMLC. That company ran an ad in Boca Raton Magazine promoting its relationship with RMLC. There were no ads in the magazine promoting the “Seven Bridges Book Club” or the “Seven Bridges Latino Club.”
Attorneys who specialize in personal injury law and insurance law said this “line blurring” created a potential liability for homeowners. They say the HOA should not have permitted RMLC to use HOA resources to promote its for profit business, and should have monitored its “charitable” endeavors.
Evan Darnell — who refers to himself as “Secretary of Steak” — has not responded to multiple requests from BocaNewsNow.com seeking an accounting of charitable donations made by The Red Meat Lover’s Club or why he chose to register the “club” as a “for profit” business instead of a 501(c)3. To be clear: this does not indicate wrongdoing, nor is he accused of wrongdoing. BocaNewsNow.com wanted to provide the increasingly high-profile organization with every opportunity possible to explain the finances of its charitable work and to promote its charitable endeavors. Our invitation remains open.
After first saying she’s received no complaints about The Red Meat Lover’s Club on Tuesday, G.L. Homes Vice President Nicole Muscarella — who serves as president of the Seven Bridges Homeowner’s Association — sent this email to BocaNewsNow.com early Wednesday morning.
“The Red Meat Lover’s Club has withdrawn their involvement from the Seven Bridges HOA.”
The Katz’s Delicatessen event was promoted as benefiting “Selfless Love Foundation.” Earlier this week, Executive Director Elizabeth Wynter told BocaNewsNow.com that the foster care charity had received no proceeds from the event.
“I understand that they are still tallying the results of the event,” she wrote in an email. “Right now we are getting ready for our annual gala but will circle back at a later date. As a non-profit we appreciate third party events to support our mission to help transform the lives of current and former foster youth. Have a selfless day!”
Wynter did not respond to emails Tuesday and Wednesday asking for an update, how the charity was chosen by the RMLC, or how we could contact the charity’s General Counsel.
A records search shows that Darnell’s neighbor — Scott Zankl— is on Selfless Love’s board of directors. The Katz’s Deli event was held at Excell Automotive, his dealership. A Boca Raton Police spokesperson confirmed that an off-duty officer was paid by Excell Automotive to handle security at the Red Meat Lover’s Club event. After determining that he never received our communication to him earlier in the week due to technical issues, Zankl reached out to BocaNewsNow.com Thursday night and spoke with us first thing Friday morning.
Known for his tireless work on behalf of several charities throughout South Florida, Zankl said there are likely two issues at play — the RMLC, which he only became aware of a few months ago — grew faster than its creators could handle and they don’t understand the rules and regulations of running a business in Florida.
Second, the Katz’s Deli event didn’t raise as much money as expected.
Zankl believes Selfless Love will receive roughly $12,000 — far short of the amount anticipated. Zankl routinely offers his large car dealership to charities for their events.
BocaNewsNow.com has learned that for this event, some philanthropists actually had to step in to cover expenses when those attending the Katz’s RMLC promotion didn’t end up making donations.
While Selfless Love has apparently not yet received funds from RMLC, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, another charity promoted by the Red Meat Lover’s Club, does confirm that a donation was accepted from the group in the past year.
“I can confirm that (an M.S.) fundraiser was legit,” said Eileen Curran, national spokesperson for the M.S. Society. “A wife of one of the members lives with MS and he asked if the club could designate the Society as recipient of profits from a recent fundraiser.”
The M.S. Society, however, was unable to immediately determine how much money was given, or the total collection from the Davidoff Cigar Lounge event held in its name.
What is the RMLC’S mission? Copied and pasted from its website: “We exist to exalt the act of gathering, dining, and ensure that we are the best business dining club in the country. Every “meating” is a curated experience that no one else can have besides our “steaksman”. This club is a lifestyle that can only be shared with similarly visioned members. We have the desire to beef, drink some and laugh.”
Not laughing: Jake Dell, the Katz’s Delicatessen owner who said Katz’s is absolutely not considering the event in Boca Raton to be a charitable tax deduction for his company and had no idea that RMLC didn’t carry a business license or have food distribution authority from Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. He said that he was just thrilled that a group was willing to pay $10,000 for Katz’s “platinum” package.
“I have a heart and a conscience,” said Dell. “It doesn’t make me happy to hear these things.”
Ed. Note: BocaNewsNow.com strives for accuracy. We extend an invitation to those who disregarded our multiple and repeated requests for comment to provide documentation to us for publication.