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Crypto meltdown: What does it mean for FTX executive Ryan Salame’s $6 million investment in Lenox?

Salame stands at the bar of Firefly Gastropub (copy)

Ryan Salame has invested over $6 million into the downtown restaurant scene in Lenox and now owns close to half the commercial district’s full-service dining establishments. On Friday, Salame's corporate home, FTX Group, filed for bankruptcy protection. Salame’s local business ventures are shielded through a half-dozen corporations registered with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.

LENOX — Now that cryptocurrency executive Ryan D. Salame’s corporate entity has imploded, will there be ripple effects on his multi-million dollar investments in downtown Lenox restaurants and real estate?

That question remains unresolved after a stunning week that shocked the crypto industry, climaxed by the announcement that the embattled exchange, FTX Group, had filed Friday for bankruptcy protection. Salame’s local business ventures are shielded through a half-dozen corporations registered with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.

“I have been following the FTX fallout all week,” said Jennifer Nacht, executive director of the Lenox Chamber of Commerce. “I feel really badly for Ryan and yes, I am concerned about what it means for Lenox. I know Heritage and Firefly are continuing to operate as normal. Everything else is on hold until further notice.”

“It’s so crazy that something of this global magnitude has such a direct effect on our little town,” Nacht told The Eagle via email Friday.

Salame’s local manager for his Lenox Eats restaurants and related businesses, Jane Blanchard, could not be reached immediately for comment.

The FTX meltdown was disclosed in a company statement on Twitter, also revealing that company founder Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, had resigned. According to Bloomberg.com, his net worth was $16 billion last Monday. But it bottomed out at zero Friday, the financial news company reported.

Salama stands outside of Firefly Gastropub (copy)

Sandisfield native Ryan Salame stands in November 2021 outside the Firefly Gastropub. 

Salame (pronounced SALEM) is listed as co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, one of many subsidiaries of the parent company. His recent and current net worth was not available.

Until a three-day run on its bitcoin deposits, FTX was valued at $32 billion and had been seen as one of the most stable companies in the loosely regulated, freewheeling crypto marketplace.

Now, the company and Bankman-Fried are being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York City and by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The federal investigation centers on the connection between FTX and sister company Alameda Research, also founded by Bankman-Fried, according to The New York Times. The issue: Did FTX misuse customer investments in crypto to prop up Alameda, which was included in Friday’s bankruptcy filing?

Salame has not responded to numerous Eagle requests for comment this week on the status of his Lenox holdings.

His only public comment on the travails of FTX came in a tweet Sunday: “It’s so powerful learning who your friends are! Very excited to grow with them in the long term. It’s not hard to genuinely figure out who cares about customers and who doesn’t if you look past the insanity.”

Under the collective branding Lenox Eats, Salame owns:

• Firefly Gastropub & Catering Co., the locally popular restaurant and live entertainment spot on Church Street.

• The Olde Heritage Tavern, a sports pub and eatery considered by locals as the Cheers of Lenox, “where everybody knows your name.”

• The former Cafe Lucia, scheduled to reopen next spring as Campfire, a casual bistro emphasizing outdoor dining. Salame also purchased two adjacent residential properties on Tucker Street.

• The Lunch Pail, a recently launched food truck.

• Lenox Catering, reported to be housed on Salame’s Tucker Street properties.

LunchPail1.jpg (copy)

The Lunch Pail, a new food truck based in downtown Lenox, is part of a growing food-truck scene in the Berkshires and is part of cryptocurrency entrepreneur Ryan Salame’s Lenox Eats, an expanding culinary collective.

• The historic 27 Housatonic St. building housing Shots Cafe as well as other businesses and several upstairs apartments.

• Sweet Dreams (formerly The Scoop), a bakery and ice cream shoppe on Church Street.

• A recently renovated, long vacant former restaurant building on Franklin Street opposite Haven Cafe & Bakery that has previously housed Lenox Pizza and, very briefly, Asian Breeze.

Salame, 29, a Sandisfield native who still has a family home in the town, has valued his total local investments at well above $6 million.

He has shielded his acquisitions, which began in summer 2021 with the purchase of Firefly, through a series of limited liability corporations registered with the state.

These, listing Salame as a director or manager, include East Rood Farm Corp. (owner of the Olde Heritage); Lenox Catering Co.; Lunch Pail Food Truck, LLC; North Diamond Paradise Inc.; North Sandy Brook LLC (for real estate holdings) and West Marble Table Inc. (for Campfire, formerly Cafe Lucia).

Salame also is listed with the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office as a manager of Triumph Airfield LLC, which operates a private landing strip in North Canaan, Conn., not far from his Sandisfield property, according to the Connecticut town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

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

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