According to the Observer, in a piece posted last night:
“Basically, he’s not really a partner,” confessed Bowery Wine Company co-owner Chris Sileo, one of two people whose names actually appear on the controversial wine bar’s liquor license (Mr. Willis not included).
“We’re old friends,” Mr. Sileo said of the famous action-film hero. “He lets me attach his name to the place to do me a favor because he knew it would help me. We just say he’s involved in the project.”
Given all the fuss stirred up by Mr. Willis’ supposed involvement in the place, however, Mr. Sileo might want to rethink his celebrity endorsement deal.
“I could do without it,” he said of all the recent hubbub. “I think most of it was because Bruce’s name was attached, and they saw an opportunity to get in the paper.
“I have no problem with activists,” he added. “But it is totally misdirected.”
Echoing the sentiments of fellow Bowery retailer John Varvatos—whose splashy opening of a trendy clothing store on the site of the hallowed CBGB rock club sparked similar demonstrations this past spring—Mr. Sileo said his small business is not responsible for the overall upscaling of the neighborhood.
Blame the landlords, he said; not the tenants: “If you want to direct it at Avalon, fine. But don’t direct it at some New York guy who happens to open a place in the Avalon. We could’ve easily opened down the block; we just opened there because it was a decent location and we got a decent rent.”
Bonus: Bruce Willis from his wine cooler days!