Robert’s Restaurant owner ordered to pay $327,000 in restitution

June 25, 2015

justiceThe owner of Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar has been ordered to pay approximately $327,000 in restitution for a scheme in which he stole from a 99-year-old woman. [Tribune]

Robert Clouston, 51, received the restitution order last week and is due back in court Thursday to discuss the issue. Clouston previously pleaded no contest to two felony counts of theft from an elderly person with a special allegation of white-collar crime.

Last July, Clouston was sentenced to a year in jail. The San Luis Obispo County Jail website does not list him as currently in custody, though.

The elderly woman, Elizabeth Nelson, had appointed Clouston to be a trustee for her 17-acre property in Templeton with plans that he would develop the land and the money made would go to charity.

But, in June 2008, Clouston removed the 17-acre parcel from a trust he jointly owned with the elderly woman and placed it in an LLC without her knowledge. Clouston had sole ownership of the LLC.robert's

After the transfer, Clouston allegedly took out two hard money loans against the property. He first borrowed $425,000 against the property to pay off bills and development fees. He then took out more than $500,000 and spent it on his three restaurants; Estrella and Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in Paso Robles and Robert’s Restaurant and Bar in Arroyo Grande.

Nelson learned of the property transfer in November 2011 when a worker from the tax assessor’s office said a reappraisal occurred due to the transfer.

Prosecutors said Clouston planned to demolish Nelson’s home in order to develop the property. Nelson was not aware of the planned demolition of her home.

Clouston’s attorney Jordan Cunningham argued that his client was confused about the duties of a trustee. Clouston said after his sentencing that he did not steal anything and that he took out the loans in order to fulfil the goal of donating to charity, as well as to pay fees and conduct environmental studies.

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Why did this Bozo get a plea bargain and not now in jail. Past time for the D.A. to get tough with criminals.

Don’t you know having a criminal agree to a plea bargain is the same as a guilty verdict for the DA, in his book a win is a win, no matter what and his stats still show he is doing a impressive job.

How come this guy never found his way into SLO County public office? He’s got the character for it; could even out do some of our lowest.

Another great candidate for one of those north county Citizen of the Year awards. Swindling old ladies out of their property. Your mother must be so proud!

Don’t leave out the south county citizens of the year. Lenny Jones’s (alleged) conduct certainly isn’t anything to make a mother proud.

His father in law, Gary Stemper, is a former mayor of Paso Robles. Does that count? I don’t think Paso awards a citizen of the year–and that’s probably a good thing.

Lenny Jones was chosen Citizen of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce, NOT the city.

They have refused to strip him of the title, even after Mayor Hill requested they do so.

That’s usually the way it works. Kelly Gearhart wasn’t chosen citizen of the year by the City of Atascadero but by the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce. This is from an older Tribune article

“Gearhart — named 2005 Citizen of the Year by the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce — was once a prolific builder known for his civic involvement in the North County.”

Chambers of commerce are frequently the entity that awards citizen of the year. This is true in Paso Robles also.

……at least thats what I heard about the construction license. Anyone know how to fact check that?

Rumor has it the Arroyo Grande location is on it’s way out.

We vowed NEVER to patronize this establishment knowing the owner’s history, there are plenty of other restaurants worthy of our support.

It may be on its way out and that just means the owner of mason bar and rooster creek will buy it and turn it into another drinking establishment like they did all over Slo.

Hope someone else buys the place and get a restaurant that has good food at a reasonable amount.

People who demonstrate they have poor character should not be rewarded with having the locals support their café. If they are up for screwing over an elderly woman: they are up for spitting in your food (or at least overcharging for it). People like this are generally narcissists or sociopaths. Be happy when you dine out—do it in a positive environment!

Went to his Paso restaurant once, before all this happened, had a terrible experience. The food was greasy and over priced. When it was brought to the attention of the staff, they simply said, “That’s odd the chef’s food usually isn’t that greasy”. Will never spend my money at his place in A.G., many other places worthy of my money, and likely with better food and no attitude.

Looks like white collar crime is on the rise here. How sad for Mrs. Nelson. I will never eat at his restaurants again.

Mr. Clauston may have to give up either ownership of his restaurant or his liquor license. I would love to be corrected on this but I believe you cannot hold an alcohol license with a felony conviction. I’m positive that he cannot ever get a Federal license, just not positive about state of California.

Liquor license applicants are subject to thorough background check, including fingerprinting.

He will just put it in his wife’s name. People like him have it all figured out on how to get away with crimes like this and profit on them too.


No wonder why he charges $14.00 for a Rueben sandwich.

Given his conviction, his license is already gone. Transferring a license is essentially a sale so it’s not so easy or automatic.

SLO Johnny thanks that is good to hear.

This was just a restitution order. He was convicted on a nolo plea quite a while ago. The restaurants probably would have lost their liquor licences immediately based on a conviction rather than on a restitution order. The same is true of ownership of the business. Although a conviction may affect a liquor license, it doesn’t generally prevent a person from owning a business. Although I realize avoiding his restaurants also affects his employees, I simply can’t patronize businesses owned by someone convicted of a crime like this. I haven’t set foot in either restaurant since his arrest.

Sadly, he will probably just transfer ownership to his wife Brenda. She will then register the license the liquor license under her name. When he had his construction business and lost his license that is what they did. They are experienced at this. The only way to defeat a cheat is to stop going to their restaurants and hit them financially. I heard she brought her bible to testify. I am hoping that as she reads it the words will resonate and changes in their family will be made.