Several Popular San Diego Restaurants Closing After CEO’s Alleged Fraud Scheme

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Several popular San Diego restaurants from the Patio Group will be closing down this month in the wake of fraud accusations by the dining group’s CEO. Employees at Fireside by Patio in Liberty Station and Patio on Goldfinch in Mission Hills were notified that their locations would be closing and their employment status would be terminated. 

Other restaurants confirmed to be closing down include Patio Express locations in Mission Hills and Mission Beach, Bao Beach in Mission Beach, and Swell Coffee locations in Mission Beach and Del Mar. 

Gina Champion-Cain, a well-known San Diego businesswoman who operated as CEO for American National Investments and The Patio Group is being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over allegations that she ran a massive scheme to defraud investors. 

The lawsuit filed by the SEC alleged that Cain was involved in convincing around 50 people to invest in a business venture that would involve profiting off loans to people applying for liquor licenses in California. The scheme generated more than $300 million, but instead of using the money for loans, Cain funneled it into other businesses. 

While The Patio Group has several other eateries amongst its portfolio, Cohn Restaurant Group will step in to provide “operational guidance” to The Patio on Lamont in Pacific Beach, Surf Rider Pizza in La Mesa and Ocean Beach, and Saska’s in Mission Beach

“We understand this is a challenging situation, but we believe The Patio on Lamont, Surf Rider (OB and La Mesa) and Saska’s are great restaurants that guests will continue to enjoy into the future,” David Cohn said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to working with the teams at each location so they can continue to provide great food, ambiance and hospitality.”

CRG told NBC 7 that employees of the restaurants involved in the operational switch will continue to keep their jobs. They are also reportedly exploring the possibility of keeping some employees of the Patio restaurants set to close. 

David Oates, a spokesman for ANI, the parent company of The Patio Group, told NBC 7 “The decision to take this step came only after evaluating viable alternatives,” referring to the handful of restaurants closing down. 

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