La. Fish Fry co-founder buys Kean’s building

Cliff Pizzolato, the co-founder of Louisiana Fish Fry, has purchased the old Kean’s cleaners building near the Perkins Road Overpass for $564,295.

Pizzolato and his wife, Tracie, purchased the property under their limited liability company, Thomas & Taylor, according to documents filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office on Monday.

The property includes a 2,417-square-foot building and two lots totaling nearly 9,900 square feet.

Carmen Austin, of Saurage Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, said she doesn’t know what Pizzolato plans to do with the property. “They have a lot of ideas,” said Austin, who brokered the sale with Hank Saurage. “It’s a great location.”

Attempts to contact Pizzolato were unsuccessful and his attorney did not immediately return a phone call.

Kean’s recently opened a location in the nearby Acadian Village Shopping Center, making the Perkins Overpass location redundant.

The Kean’s property acquisition comes amid a legal dispute involving Pizzolato and one of his brothers.

Last year, Cliff Pizzolato filed a lawsuit to dissolve Pizzolato Investment Co., a holding company that was set up to handle the profits from Tony’s Seafood and the adjoining Louisiana Fish Fry Products business.

Pizzolato Investment Co. was founded in 1992 by his father, “Big Tony” Pizzolato, who founded the seafood business in 1959.

Under the agreement, Tony Pizzolato’s six children — Bill, Joey, Mike, Cliff, Tad and Ceily — owned an equal share of the investment company.

Every month, profits from the two businesses went into the holding company and each quarter, the profits were divided equally among the six children.

Bill Pizzolato, the eldest child, is president of Tony’s Seafood and manager of Pizzolato Investments.

In the lawsuit, Cliff Pizzolato, who co-founded Louisiana Fish Fry with his father in 1983 and served as company president, said his brother Bill has “abused his position to denigrate and bully” him and “breached his duty as an officer and director.”

In a court filing, John Jakuback, an attorney for Bill Pizzolato, called the allegations “false and unsupported” and “ridiculous and untrue.”

In the lawsuit, Cliff Pizzolato said he got a letter on July 10, 2012, from Bill Pizzolato advising him to stay away from Tony’s and Louisiana Fish Fry so tempers could cool.

In September 2012, a bloc of family members voted to remove Cliff Pizzolato from the board of directors, and authorized board members to increase their own salaries and distribute additional shares without approval from the other shareholders, the suit says.

This had the effect of making Cliff Pizzolato and another brother, Tad Pizzolato, minority shareholders.

Cliff Pizzolato was not terminated and his salary continued, but he wasn’t allowed to return to work at Louisiana Fish Fry.

Cliff Pizzolato said that on June 20, 2013, he was notified he was no longer allowed to return to his job managing the daily operations of Louisiana Fish Fry. Bill Pizzolato also “suspended” Tad Pizzolato and barred him from the premises, the suit says.

The case has been assigned to 19th Judicial District Judge Kay Bates.

Earlier this year, there were local media reports that Tony’s Seafood planned to open a second location at the old Kean’s site. Tony’s officials denied those reports and said the company had “no current plans to open a new location in Baton Rouge.”