Less than two years after opening Tides Salon in Cannon House Office Building Room 139, owner Vincent Marvaso is preparing to close its glass doors.
The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer suddenly terminated his lease, originally a three-year contract with four renewable two-year terms.
The CAO instructed the private company to vacate by April 29. But an angry Marvaso alleges that the closing is unjustified, and he’s beefing up a defense, contacting lawyers and crafting an appeal to the House Administration Committee.
“This is a modern-day witch hunt,” Marvaso said. “It’s utterly crushed my American dream and destroyed my business for no good reason. I lived up to the contract completely.”
It’s unclear whether Tides’ nine employees will be able to continue to work at the salon under another employer.
According to a letter of appeal written by Marvaso’s lawyers last week and addressed to House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), the lease was terminated on March 1 “for convenience” — not for a breach of contract.
But recent events suggest a more complex story surrounding the termination, one in which both sides are accusing each other of wrongful misconduct and failing to live up to their ends of the bargain.
The Tides-CAO relationship seems to have been rocky from the start. Marvaso claimed the office never allowed him to market the salon, denying his requests to post fliers on House bulletin boards and send them to new Members.
In a five-month span last year, 17 employees quit the salon. Marvaso said they left because of a lack of clients, specifically because Tides hasn’t been allowed to market itself.
But a Tides employee said former employees made complaints about the salon that may have prompted a CAO inquiry.
In September, Marvaso said, the CAO counsel called him to a meeting and informed him that a former Tides employee accused him of hitting her and of racism.
Marvaso denies the incident and said he hasn’t heard a word on the subject since September.
The employee-supervisor relationship isn’t the only problem the CAO has reviewed. According to Marvaso’s appeal letter, the office launched a series of investigations into Tides’ payroll, employee benefits and taxes in December.
“Accusations have gone from one item to another item to another item,” Marvaso said.
Marvaso insisted that he answered all the matters raised by the CAO by submitting almost 200 pages of financial records. To the CAO’s concern that Tides failed to offer health care benefits, Marvaso said he offered benefits but premiums were so high that nobody wanted the package.
As for late paychecks due to employees, another matter raised in the CAO inquiry, the fault fell on an outside payroll agency, he said.
Neither employee complaints nor financial concerns were mentioned in the termination letter.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.