Young and Hungry

Spike Mendelsohn Evicted from His Capitol Hill Rental House

U.S. Marshals evicted Good Stuff Eatery chef and owner Spike Mendelsohn and his friend and business partner, Mike Colletti, from their Capitol Hill rental house this morning after the pair owed more than $8,000 to the landlords, said Joel Truitt, property manager for owners Brian and Elizabeth Wetzler.

When Marshals arrived at 9:30 a.m., they found neither Mendelsohn nor Colletti on the property. Instead, Truitt said, they found another man and woman apparently living there. "We don't know who they were," Truitt said. Marshals hauled the home's possessions to the curb, including futons, a big-screen TV, and a table with eight chairs, the property manager said. The man found living there salvaged his own possessions, Truitt added, but allowed the rest of the stuff to be looted by people in the neighborhood.

News of the eviction comes not long after Mendelsohn started talking publicly about his takeover of Zack's Taverna, next door to Good Stuff, and his plans to convert the joint to a pizzeria. He's also been talking about expanding the Good Stuff brand.

In July of last year, Mendelsohn and Colletti signed a one-year lease on the house in 400 block of 15th Street SE, Truitt said. The tenants started off well, paying their rent, but by January of this year, the Wetzlers were forced to turn to the courts when the burger men owed $4,600 in back rent and late fees, Truitt said.  Mendelsohn and Colletti were paying $2,200 a month in rent.

Neither showed up for a court hearing on Feb. 25, Truitt said. A writ of restitution eviction notice was then issued on March 11. All along the way, Truitt said, Mendelsohn and Colletti were notified about the ongoing legal proceedings, by both the courts and the landlords. Letters, in fact, were sent to the tenants, the family, and to Good Stuff Eatery, the property manager said. Truitt even called Spike Mendelsohn's father, Harvey, to try to get some resolution. A couple of checks then arrived in March, Truitt said, totaling about $3,500.

But by May, the tenants owed $8,700 in rent, late fees, and attorneys' fees, Truitt said. This was money the Wetzlers needed to cover their own mortgage, said Elizabeth Wetzler, who called from Bogotá, Colombia, where she and her husband are stationed. Brian Wetzler is a commander in the U.S. Coast Guard, and they're expecting their first child.

The turn-of-the-century rowhouse on Capitol Hill is the couple's only rental property. It's a two-bedroom, two-bath home with new hardwood floors, a remodeled kitchen, and central air. "It's a cute little house," Elizabeth Wetzler said.

Wetzler said she and her husband have been more than accommodating with their tenants, repeatedly trying to contact Mendelsohn and Colletti to get them to live up to the terms of the lease. The couple even extended the date of the eviction when the weather proved lousy in late April, she said.  They didn't want to "do the eviction if we were going to put someone out in the rain and snow."

Micheline Mendelsohn, Spike's sister and spokeswoman for Good Stuff Eatery, called late this afternoon to explain her brother's side of the story. She said that Spike had signed a lease in June — or one month before his lease with the Wetzlers — to live with his girlfriend at another Capitol Hill location. Micheline Mendelsohn says that her brother transferred his share of the 15th Street lease to another Good Stuff Eatery cook, Brian Lacayo, who lived in the house with Colletti.

It was Lacayo who was on premise when the Marshals arrived this morning, the spokeswoman said. She didn't know who the unidentified woman was.

Whoever was responsible, Micheline Mendelsohn said she couldn't explain why the cooks didn't pay their rent. "The guys' get a salary," she said. None of the Good Stuff guys had a comment for the record.

The alleged lease transfer was news to Elizabeth Wetzler when Y&H contacted her a second time. "We never, ever heard of that, and certainly he never asked permission to do so," the owner said. What's more, Wetzler added, Spike Mendelsohn's name was still on all the legal documents coming from the courts.

"Why didn't he just pick up the phone and say, 'Please don't drag my name through this,'" Wetzler said, since he's claiming to no longer be party to the lease.

Wetzler called back early this evening to say that her husband, Brian, had just spoke with Truitt, their property manager, who had also not heard about the lease transfer. The only people legally responsible for the rent, she added, were Spike Mendelsohn and Mike Colletti.

"We were looking forward to eating some of his hamburgers when we got back to D.C.," Elizabeth Wetzler said. "But I don't think we're going to go to his business now."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Anthony Guglielmo

    Spike Mendolson is a disgrace to the restaurant profession. In business, when you sign a contract it actually means that they are accepting responsibilty to the outlined business relationship. He obviously is a man who does not honor his obligations which makes every part of his business suspect. I would recommend a night where all their customers come into his restaurant and not pay for their meal. They can say that they subleased their food to a homeless guy outside and suggest for Spike to collect from him.

  • rachel beth

    This story is not telling the truth. Spike lives with his girlfriend, they've lived together in capitol hill for almost a year. They've never been late on rent, they have a beautiful, happy home and their landlords are dear friends. I know this because my sister is his girlfriend. He originally lived with those guys, but shortly after, he moved out. And when he DID live there, he paid rent on time. This entire story has become distorted.

  • Mike Licht

    Was Spike legally entitled to sublet the rental property? That's what he did, and many rental agreements do not permit this, or require approval by the owner or agent.

  • EJ

    I can vouch for #2 comment.

  • Simon

    I think this is beyond the pale, even for this blog. Chefs not paying their kitchen staff, that's legitimate. Chefs not paying rent on their restaurants, super-legitimate. Chefs beating their wives... maybe. But chefs not paying rent on an apartment they subletted to someone else? Across the line.

  • Simon

    (I mean legitimate as a topic of conversation, not legitimate as a practice.)

  • Art

    Did the folks who wrote comments #2 and 3 even bother to read the article?? It very clearly notes that Spike's sister explained that he lives with his girlfriend and had sublet the house to a Good Stuff employee. However, I fail to see why that is supposed to be some kind of defense here. He neither got the landlords' permission nor notified them of his move and sublet. Worse yet, he did not even bother to respond to the court once served with eviction papers. When you sign a lease, you do not get to make the unilateral decision to simply transfer it and walk away. Spike should grow up and honor his commitments!

  • S. Ham

    I agree that Spike and Mike Colletti owe the money and should pay up! It’s not even a debate… the DC court says they owe the money. If I sign a lease for one car and then decide I like a different one, and lease that one too, I am responsible for payments on both cars whether I drive them both or not. I can’t later claim to the original dealership that I gave the car to someone else without permission and that he was responsible for it. That isn’t legal and wouldn’t be recognized as such by anyone. How is this situation much different? I wonder if they rent the space for either of the restaurants. Would they stop paying the rent on Good Stuff if the new place turns out to be something they like more? Let’s hope not. That’s bad for everyone on the Hill. I hope they make this right ASAP by paying what the courts say they owe.

  • Anthony Guglielmo

    Subletting his apartment does not release him of his obligations and just demonstrates how stupid and selfish a "celebrity" can become.
    If you read the article, the owner is in the military and serving in Columbia. He obviously took advantage of this situation letting his staff live in the apartment.
    The best statement is voting with your wallet...Veterans should not support this business until he apologizes and pays up.

  • John G.

    I don’t see any controversy here. If you lease a property, and then hand someone else the keys, that’s just bad judgment, not to mention illegal. And guess what; you’re still responsible for paying the lease, nice guy or not; “other lease” or not; girlfriend or not. If Mendelsohn and Colleti own this debt, they should pay it, take away a valuable lesson, and get back to making burgers. Of course, they could instead decide to stiff an active duty military family who is serving overseas in a hostile fire zone, expecting their first child, and trying to pay their mortgage. Yeah, that would be a genius public relations move; at the same time as they’re talking about opening another restaurant? Are you serious? Why don’t they just hand that one to Five Guys on a platter, and scratch the First Lady off their list of return customers. Come on guys, act like upstanding Hill residents; pay your debts and move on.

  • Neil W.

    These men are deadbeats, there really isn't much more to say than that. It is sad that someone running a successful business that depends on the good will of it's customers in the community doesn't have the gumption to pay his rightful debt and apologize for the trouble he has caused these people.
    I for one will not be eating burgers in this place and I will make sure that I tell as many other people as I can that they might want to get their ground beef elsewhere as well.

    Hey! Writers of comments 2 and 3, Grow Up! Responsible adults pay their debts.

  • L

    How can #2 say with a clear conscience write that "This entire story has become distorted" The facts are simply stated ...Spike and Mike went into an agreement with the Wetzlers for one year. They failed to pay their rent while this agreement was in effect. Spike did not bother to inform the owners that he was moving out nor did Mike enlighten said parties that he was behind in his rent. The spokeswoman for the restaurant says that her brother transferred his share of the 15th Street lease to another Good Stuff Eatery cook. I believe that you need to inform all parties involved in this lease before one can transfer one share. What kind of business are they running? It appears that they may need to reevaluate their business/financial practices before they decide to expand. The owners of the Good Stuff eatery should pay the money that is owed to the homeowner and put this not so distorted story to rest.

  • Francis Walsh

    It sounds like Mr. and Mrs Wetzler are off on difficult duty
    serving their country. They rented their house to Mr. Mendelsohn for what is a pretty damn fair rent in this neighborhood and he has decided to skip out on rent and expenses that have added up to a pretty substantial sum while peddling his burgers and becoming wealthy?


  • Chris R.

    So Mr Mendelsohn, next time I'm in your restaurant would it be ok if I just tell you at the end of the meal that the people on the other side of the dining room are going to pay my tab?

    Not to worry, I won't be in again.

    Your pathetic!

  • Matt D.

    Rachel beth and EJ you may want to actually read more than the headline before you comment. You may know the couple and find them to be upstanding, friendly folk, but the only benefit of the doubt that could be allowed, in my opinion, is that he wasn't aware that subletting isn't a simple, "yeah, stay at that place and pay the rent, OK?"

    The fact that it went on as long as it did, with repeated attempts to legally reach out to this pretentious jackanapes, vouches for nothing but his irresponsibility and dishonesty. If his businesses are in such shape that he can talk about expanding, I hope he is forced to pay double and the Wetzlers can use the money to put towards baby's education.


  • Keith

    Why the heck did the owner have to call the newpaper and report the eviction? It really is no one's business anyway. It sounds like the owners were out to be rude and selfish for no appearant reason called the paper to report the story. They should stay in Columbia.

  • Chickenbot

    Why would the owners of the house contact the City Paper with these details, Keith, you dickhead?

  • Antonia F.

    I'm wondering how Keith would feel if he were over seas serving his country with his pregnant wife, and he rented his home to an upstanding couple of guys who then turned out to be complete and total deadbeat, douche bags? Would he try several times to contact them giving them the benefit of the doubt, before having to drag their sorry asses into court? Would he call the local papers and let them know what kind of people these two "upstanding" local business men really are? Would he sit on his hands and not do anything, because after all, when some rich jerk off rips you off while you're serving in the military overseas, it's no one else's business?...No, he'd probably drop trou, bend over quietly, and take it.

  • jcherkis

    I don't think they called WCP. I think the rumor was out there....Also, what the landlord did in this case was how it should always be done. They bent over backwards for Spike. He could have cleared this up, gotten them the money or something. But what is troubling is he made little or no attempt to make amends with the landlord....

  • John A.

    Judging by the article this dirtbag deserves to be dragged through the press. I'm sure if he had done something noble and upstanding he would have been flogging it all over the papers to get as much press as possible for his over priced over hyped burger joint. As it is he is he has proven that he is no more than a dead beat rent dodger who doesn't deserve our respect or our business.

    Could this person really have created a successful business on his own? I doubt it. I smell a rich daddy or someone that put this together for his spoiled brat kid.

    Good Luck Spike, you'll probably need it.

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  • Ron The Don

    Last time I check, upstanding citizens paid their debts and never violate the contracts they agreed to follow! If Mr. Mendelsohn acted like an adult and settled this issue in a professional manner, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Man, this dude, no pun intended, definitely bit off more than he can chew.

  • Andrew

    I will never eat at Good Stuff again.

  • mifi

    Pathetic. This is reason enough for me and my friends who pay their rent and are humble enough to avoid overzealous public affairs stints to promote mediocre anything - let alone burgers - in these trying times, to avoid anything this douche and his family are associated with. Irresponsibility leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  • J

    What a douche. How about instead of investing all his money into the new Pixza place they pay these people? Incredible ego he has! FAIL

  • 7 dollar burger

    funny enough i went to good stuff eatery had a burger or two, burgers were great but at 7 a burger im sure hes making enough money to pay that back rent or at least garnish the wages of the employee who now lives there to avoid his name being dragged in the mud....i cant believe they have a spokesperson too lol..what hell is she saying that spike himself cant say

  • Kylie

    I am more disturbed that even the state of Georgia does evictions more humanely. IE putting the items into storage and adding that to the bill.

    Putting the items out in the street distressed the victims even further.

  • NovaNicole

    "The man found living there salvaged his own possessions, Truitt added, but allowed the rest of the stuff to be looted by people in the neighborhood."

    Nice neighborhood.

  • Katie

    So whose stuff was looted?

    Something similar happened to my brother in DC years ago. He and his roommate were paying rent but the lessor of the entire house was not handing that over to the landlord. He arrived home one day to find a few pairs of undies, a few CDs, and his LSAT books on the street. A few days later, he bought his shoes back from a street vendor.

    Oh well, now he's a millionaire.

  • jaylin4dc

    Sounds like Rachel Beth is saying Mendelshon, Colletti, and Lacayo were all living together int he house. Wonder if that's allowed on lease?

    PS - I'm going to love watching this psuedo-wannabe-celebrity crash and burn. Bets on when drug addiction will kick in? I don't expect much coming from an adult who has his Daddy pay his debts and take care of his problems.

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  • Cale P.

    This is truly amazing. How can anyone read this article and have anything but total sympathy for the Wetzler's and total disgust with SPIKE? Blood relative alliances aside (rachel and E.J. I assume you suffer from the same entitlement issues SPIKE does), Katie, are you dull or something? Did your brother live at the Wetler's home along with the other deadbeats? If not, it has nothing to do with this case. If so, let him pay the Wetlzers! The facts are this: Mental Giant SPIKE gets a lease...SPIKE figures playing house with his girlfriend sounds more fun....SPIKE lets someone else live in the house he leased...NO ONE PAYS THE WETZLER's for SPIKE'S RESPONSIBILITY. Case closed. He owes the money. It wouldn't even be public knowledge if he opened his mail and followed directions. I can't wait to go to D.C. and NOT eat at his lousy restaurant. Is it legal to set up my grill on the sidewalk of his restaurant and sell better food for less money?...we could call it a FUNDRAISER for the Wetzler Baby because SPIKE didn't pay his parents his RENT.

  • Joel Truitt’s PR Company

    I am good. In fact, I deserve a raise. THIRTY ONE comments and no mention of my client. Seriously... with all the holes in Carmen's reporting, the only thing I'm certain about: the property manager was a complete and utter moron. Sure, Spike signed the docs so legally, he's on the line. But if I were the Wetzler's, I would be LIVID that he couldn't track down someone as accessible as Spike before having to rack up legal fees, court marshals, and bad press. The article doesn't mention was Truitt wasn't doing for 6 months (hint: his job), aside from convincing his client that DC was amidst a blizzard in April (!?!). The fact of the matter is, if you know anything about PMs, clients like the Wetzlers (single homeowners) are NOT their top priority day in and day out. I'd also be curious to know where the Wetzler's got their legal reference for dealing with this. (guess: Truitt). And enough comments from all these people posing as ethical merchants, claiming they won't buy burgers b/c Spike royally screwed up a subleasing arrangement. In this day and age, it's almost impossible not to be a hypocritical shopper, so remember that as you boast your pseudo-nobel chests at Spike's expense, and drive by Good Eats and Fraggers on your way to McDonalds and Home Depot every weekend. Have some perspective people. The day that Spike outsources his burger-making to China, then yeah, I'll reconsider. But until then, I'll judge him for his burgers. The one thing this article taught me is if I'm in the market for a property manager, I've learned whom not to hire. But that's all.

  • omtay

    The bottom line: Mr. M is to Restaurants as are 'The Archies' to Rock and Roll. This status somehow has gotten him sympathy from some and a sense of entitlement from himself.

    On the other hand, his landlord has been serving his country in quiet determination for over 20 years.

    Mr. M, if you care for your public standing, settle this as soon as possible. If you care for what is right, act sooner.

  • JW

    The thing that really upsets me about Spike is that when they bought up Zack's Taverna they fired the bar staff the Monday they came in to work with no advanced notice and no severance pay. And then his sister told the WaPo that they weren't firing anyone from Zack's. I realize when you buy out a business, it's yours to do with as you please, but Cyndi at Zack's Taverna was one of the best bartenders on the Hill, and to then go ahead and claim you aren't firing anyone lacks total class.

  • COF

    Spike's burgers are pretty damn good. I don't know if he doesn't pay his rent or if he can successfully execute a sublet agreement. I do know for a fact that the day he took over Zack's he fired the entire bar staff and tossed them out on their asses.

    Charming, Spike, you jackass.

  • bobby

    I cant believe this is considered "news" and this is what you people chose to spend your time talking about, it humors me haha who really cares who is paying rent. If you dont own the building why do you care. I never met Spike or his co-workers but i personally dont care if they pay their rent or not, just keep making burgers. They're delicious.

  • J

    Okay Bobby- If no one cares about Spike screwing his landlords over or the fact that he fired Zachs staff- why is this the top blog and have so many responses? Don't post if your just going to bitch about nothing.

  • Derek

    Sounds like most of these posts are from bitter former employees of Zach's. Your business got bought out, move on. Seems like this whole issue got blown out of proportion and quite frankly isn't even news worthy.

  • БaкинcкийPoмaн

    Так мило, но так банально... :)

  • Сергей Александров

    Удачи вам! Я думаю у вас все получится :)


  • Jas Hook

    Wow. People love to talk about other people they do not even know. Calling names, telling people to 'grow up' on an internet message board...hmmm. Who needs to grow up? Quit caring so much about other peoples lives/misfortunes. I also agree w/ the person who questioned the choice of this topic for discussion here at all. C'mon now.

  • Jas Hook

    Also, to J, you say 'if no one cares...that he fired Zach's staff'...this is not even the topic! Geeeez.

  • John Felix Koziol

    I've got a journalistic background and I'll be the first one to say that the reader shouldn't always believe the story he or she has read unless you know of the writer's reputation and it's at least a good one. From what I've been finding out, and it's just been recently that I have, Spike Mendelsohn is the boy genius of the culinary world these days. Why would he jeopardize his reputation as such by not paying his bills? With the continued exposure he is getting for his reputation as a brilliant chef, especially with the exposure he's getting on the Food Network, he is in the public eye, a true celebrity as there ever was one. Why would he want to put a blemish on such a positive reputation that he has built for himself? This leads me to believe that the writer of this article either had a run-in with Mr. Mendelsohn and is holding a grudge which he held through the writing of this article or didn't research his story enough, both which make for extremely poor journalistic writing. So, those nay-sayers out there who are holding on ever word of this article and saying that they are no longer going to eat at one of Spike Mendelsohn's restaurants because of what is said in this article are being ignorant. Besides, this incident that the writer of this article tells about has nothing to do with Spike Mendelsohn the chef. So, with that being said, stop being so ignorant you nay-sayers!

  • Itabitch@10

    @John Felix koziol we all know Ur not a Journalist and is friends with Spike. So stop sticking up for your buddy loser, Actually are both losers:) I unfortunately this is a true story, And I know you both!

  • Michelle

    I agree that when u are as well-known as Spike, there is no way u would want to have any bad press against u in any way. If he did fire the staff of Zacks then I'm sure he did what he thought was best for that business. I think he is a very talented chef who probably made a lot of enemies when he fired those people, so I'm sure most of them will tell things that aren't true about Spike to make him look bad in the press. People if u don't want to eat at any eating establishment owned by Spike, then by all means DON'T but stop griping about it & take yourself to McDonalds because noone cares. I'm not a judgmental person when I don't know both sides of a story and anyone should be ashamed who does judge someone from something u read. If Spike did anything wrong then I'm sure he will
    make it right. U rock Spike!

  • Miss Hirpara

    This was in right?