New Hope’s legendary Raven resort will soon be listed for sale, according to sources close to the situation.
The Raven was founded in 1979 at 385 W. Bridge Street, and represents New Hope’s last remaining gay club, following the demise of the Cartwheel and Prelude in years past. It draws large, diverse crowds year round, with a popular restaurant, three bars, hotel rooms, guest house, pool, lounge areas, and dance floor.
The Raven is also a popular entertainment venue, with DJs and a full weekly schedule of acts, including performers Bob Egan, Russel Eiffert, and Michael Ferreri, along with drag shows, all-male revues, and karoake.
The resort’s business direction has drifted in recent years, as owners experimented with varying models to attract a younger crowd, while attempting to appeal to a substantial, albeit aging, customer base. Despite the challenge, the Raven could well represent a potential gold mine to the right buyer with a winning business formula.
The move to sell the iconic resort comes as part-owner Steven Lau continues to pursue a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against his fellow business associates.
Lau, who helped form indie rock band Ocean Blue, and was a division head at Warner Brothers Records and Bertelsman Music Group, purchased the Raven in late 2014. In need of additional capital, he took on a silent partner in 2015 who gained 50% of the business in exchange for funding.
Lau’s complaint arises from the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and asserts that the silent partner used the Raven to launder large amounts of cash from the unlawful activities of his tobacco business, then stole the Raven through a pattern of racketeering, including wire fraud, mail fraud, and extortion.
A lawyer for the defendants disputed Lau’s claims.
“We categorically deny each an every one of those allegations,” said Philadelphia attorney Jeffrey Ogren.
“I stand by the allegations made in the Federal RICO action against Saumil Ambani and the other defendants,” commented Lau. “I have faith in our judicial system and trust that the truth will prevail. I thank the New Hope and Lambertville community for their continuing support over the last 18 months. The people in this community have been very understanding and supportive.”
Lau declined comment on the potential sale of the Raven.
Lau’s associates at the Raven said in a July 2016 interview that they had “stepped in to take a more hands-on approach” to ensuring that the resort can “survive and thrive,” and assembled a new operating team with an emphasis on improving financial management. Lau would no longer be “active in the day-to-day management” of the Raven, they said at the time.
In his lawsuit, Lau claims that his silent partner and others “squeezed” him out of his job.
More on Lau’s lawsuit and the sale of the Raven in the days to come.
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