TMCNet:  Fort Worth Star-Telegram Shlachter, Nishimura & Baker column

[December 20, 2012]

Fort Worth Star-Telegram Shlachter, Nishimura & Baker column

Dec 20, 2012 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A dispute between the landlord of the Latino sports bar Ojos Locos in downtown Fort Worth and a Colleyville executive over the disappearance of more than $300,000 from a Pakistani call center's bank account has been settled after four years of sometimes wild drama.


Farukh Aslam, whose building houses the popular bar, agreed to return the money to the Pakistani venture headed by Tom Slone, according a settlement motion filed with the 96th District Court on Dec. 4.

Touchstone Communications will get $327,000 that Aslam earlier had been ordered to pour into an escrow account, but he gets to keep $11,000 plus accrued interest.

Aslam unabashedly had admitted to the Star-Telegram in 2008 that he had flown to Pakistan and withdrawn the funds -- part of what he had invested in the call center created at his suggestion.

Why Because he was convinced Slone was running the venture into the ground, he told the paper.

Touchstone has managed to survive both its hostile investor and a host of natural and political calamities, including the bombing of the building next door.

Slone at one point found himself in a sleeping bag on the floor of the Islamabad firm, literally holding ground against an invasion of "goat herders" that he says Aslam had sent to occupy the center. Aslam insisted they were the company's own guards.

The white-haired CEO also claimed Aslam had sold one of the center's valuable office leases just as it was negotiating a contract with a Norwegian-owned cell phone company -- which would have helped it diversify from cold-calling U.S. home owners on behalf of the collapsing U.S. subprime mortgage industry, which had been Touchstone's initial bread and butter.

Neither side would comment on the settlement, which made no mention of a defamation suit that Slone separately filed against Aslam in Pakistan. He claimed Aslam had waged a media campaign to destroy his reputation.

Taco Diner will open in Sundance Square There are more tacos in downtown Fort Worth's future.

We didn't know there was a taco gap to fill but Taco Diner, a concept that M Crowd Restaurant Group has trotted out in Southlake, Dallas, Addison and elsewhere, will hold down 3,000-square feet of Sundance Square's under-construction Westbrook Building next year on the shopping district's new plaza.

M Crowd are the folks behind the seemingly always busy Mi Cocina but, according to a news release, will offer "a lighter approach to Mexican cooking with a focus on bold flavors found in traditional Mexico City taquerias." "Taco Diner is a proven concept with a fantastic management team so we are pleased to have a signed lease so we can get ready to open in 2013," said Johnny Campbell, Sundance CEO and president.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 sabaker@star-telegram.com Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 jfuquay@star-telegram.com Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718 barry@star-telegram.com ___ (c)2012 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at www.star-telegram.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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