Robert’s Restaurant owner selling businesses to employees

September 15, 2015

11889663_1002035219826754_7753919066494821083_nA San Luis Obispo County restaurant owner who was convicted of stealing from a 99-year-old woman is selling his businesses to his employees. [Tribune]

Robert Clouston was ordered in June to pay $327,000 in restitution for a scheme he carried out while acting as the elderly woman’s trustee. Clouston placed a 17-acre Templeton property in an LLC he solely owned and then took out two hard money loans against the property.

Clouston used money from the second loan to buy three restaurants: Estrella in Arroyo Grande and Robert’s Restaurant and Wine Bar in both Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande. He is now selling them to his executives chefs and the general manager of Estrella.

Justin Picard, executive chef at Robert’s restaurants said he will own the Arroyo Grande location and co-own the Paso Robles restaurant with Travis Borba, executive chef at Estrella, and Aric Grimes, general manager of Estrella.

Picard is expected to have a majority ownership of the Paso Robles location. Borba and Grimes will co-own Estrella Restaurant.

The terms of the agreements have not been disclosed.

Picard has worked at Robert’s Restaurant since its opening in Paso Robles in 2010. Borba has worked with Estrella since it opened in January 2012. Grimes began work at Estrella in January 2013.

Picard said Clouston is selling the three restaurants because he wanted to pursue other interests.



  1. Lilylu says:

    Travis Borba’s parents are (were?) hard money lenders’, does anyone else find this a little suspicious? Wonder where Mr. Clouston got his his hard money loans. Would be interesting to know.

    (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  2. Citizen says:

    Will the Cloustons’ still be part owners of each restaurant? Silent partners? Why am I suspicious? Is it because it’s unusual for employees to be able to totally buy out their employer’s restaurant? Both of them. Or is it because R. Clouston is a convicted crook who makes up his own rules/laws about ownership?

    (17) 17 Total Votes - 17 up - 0 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Perhaps Robert Clouston is expecting a lawsuit or have leans filed and wants to appear to not have any assets. I too am suspicious and will still not visit “his” restaurants, regardless of who appears to own them or should the names change, because the players may be the same.

      (14) 14 Total Votes - 14 up - 0 down
    • agbill says:

      Would the liquor license be pulled because of Clouston’s crime?

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
    • Paso_citizen says:

      I’d vote for crook, who is trying hid unethical best to circumvent the law and ‘wiggle’ his way out of being put in prison for many, many years for taking advantage of an elderly
      person that had put her faith in him.

      He ought to be ashamed (and severely punished) for his actions; but most likely he is only ashamed that he got caught.

      (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  3. whatsinaname says:

    I’ve boycotted the AG Robert’s Restaurant since this story about the owner came out. Not that I would spend the money to eat there often, but I won’t even try it. I drive by multiple times a day, and I can’t see how they turn a profit there. There is a small flow of very old people that go in for both lunch and dinner, but I can’t imagine that there are enough customers to make money. Mason’s next door is booming, and Rooster Creek continues to do well. I’d give it year at the most, unless they are just running the restaurant for fun.

    (31) 31 Total Votes - 31 up - 0 down
    • justbeware says:

      Like you, I have not set foot in Roberts. I refuse to support a crook!
      Hope this chef knows what he’s in for. It’s not easy to change public opinion.

      (22) 22 Total Votes - 22 up - 0 down
  4. kayaknut says:

    I would certainly suggest a name change, very bad reputation associated with the current name, but my problem was with the food quality in Paso. When I was there the food was very greasy, in fact you could hold it up and the greasy just dripped off it, and when we mentioned it to our server all they said was, “Gee that’s not the way the chef usually prepares the food”, so other changes are also needed. Ember is so much better.

    (25) 27 Total Votes - 26 up - 1 down
  5. jonhartz says:

    Would those “other interests” include restitution? What a jerk.

    (34) 36 Total Votes - 35 up - 1 down
    • achillesheal says:

      amen. Was there no criminal prosecution of his fraud? Is he profiting from the sales of these restaurants that he purchased with stolen money? This doesn’t seem kosher.

      (24) 26 Total Votes - 25 up - 1 down

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