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After cryptocurrency meltdown, scant sign of change for FTX executive Ryan Salame’s Lenox restaurants

Salame stands outside of Firefly Gastropub

Ryan Salame stands in the fall of 2021 outside Firefly Gastropub, one of the restaurants he has purchased in Lenox.

LENOX — Despite the implosion of his employer, the massive FTX crypto empire, Ryan Salame’s more than $6 million investment in Lenox restaurants and real estate does not appear to be affected.

In response to an Eagle inquiry, Salame’s local manager, Jane Blanchard, said it is “business as usual” at his Lenox Eats “collective” of dining establishments. Several others remain in the planning stage.

Salame’s highest-profile eateries — the Olde Heritage Tavern and Firefly Gastropub, open six days a week — are busy, said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Nacht. Both destinations are participating in current “Lenox Winter Wonderland” pre-holiday festivities, including the Restaurant Walk promotion.

Salame, 29, the Sandisfield native who was co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, an affiliate of FTX, has remained incommunicado since the Nov. 11 collapse of the parent company and its 130 subsidiaries.

Blanchard, in an email message, said the Sweet Dreams ice cream and candy emporium, formerly The Scoop, is closed for the season and will reopen in May.

The Lenox Eats food truck, The Lunch Pail, is operating, she said, with bookings at private events, pop-ups, holiday celebrations in Lenox and at the Great Barrington Holiday Stroll coming Dec. 10. The food truck, operated by proprietor and chef Brian Drumm, a Lee native and current Lenox resident, will set up a regular schedule in the spring, Blanchard added.

But the future of Campfire, formerly Cafe Lucia, on Church Street is unclear. According to the Lenox Eats website, it’s “coming soon.” Earlier this fall, Salame projected a late-spring reopening, but that detail no longer appears online.

Also pending is a plan for the former restaurant building that Salame bought and renovated earlier this year on Franklin Street, opposite Haven Cafe. The building housed Lenox Pizza for many years and, briefly, Asian Breeze.

Separate entities

All of Salame’s local investments were financed through seven different corporate entities on file with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.

“Everything is business as usual, as far as I know, for now,” said Nacht at the Chamber of Commerce. “But I haven’t heard from Ryan, about him or seen him, nothing.”

“I don’t think there will be a sense of urgency to unload Firefly and the Heritage,” she said. “He has other real estate here that will probably be easier for him to sell before these two businesses that are generating income.”

Salama speaks from inside Firefly Gastropub (copy) (copy)

Sandisfield native Ryan Salame speaks in 2021 about his culinary businesses in Lenox. 

Nacht also predicted that when — and if — the time comes, “someone else will come in and take over the businesses.” She speculated that if any holdings are sold, they would not be the operating Heritage and Firefly restaurants.

She described Salame as “very smart” in keeping those establishments as they were before he purchased them. “They’re successful, so you have to give him credit for that,” said Nacht. “He had the best of intentions coming into town.”

Realtor Mary Jo Piretti acknowledged that among Salame’s holdings, “the ones I’m worried about are those that aren’t up and running. Like everyone else, I’m wondering and worrying. I hope it ends well for him, and for the town.”

FTX Digital Markets, which Salame ran from the Bahamas, has filed for liquidation of its operations through the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. The filing under Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code is to deal with insolvency cases involving debtors, assets, claimants, and other parties of interest involving more than one country.

According to the Reuters news agency, earlier this year he had signed paperwork through FTX Property Holdings, Ltd., an affiliated company, for a $30 million purchase of an oceanfront Bahamas penthouse property at a resort called the Albany. That FTX subsidiary bought 15 properties in the Bahamas since last year that cost a total of nearly $100 million.

Last month, filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court revealed that Alameda Research, a hedge fund affiliated with FTX, had loaned $55 million to Salame, a transaction listed at the time as a “receivable,” meaning it remains to be repaid.

FTX, which had been one of the largest crypto exchanges for digital tokens, owes an estimated $8 billion to as many as one million customers. John J. Ray III, an attorney who grew up in Pittsfield and graduated from the former St. Joseph’s Central High School in 1976, heads a team attempting to deal with the fallout from FTX’s financial collapse.

Multiple investigations are underway, centering on whether FTX misused customers’ crypto investments to prop up the affiliated Alameda hedge fund.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.

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