18 months ago, Bleeding Cool profiled a then-just-opening comic book store in New York, POP ROC Cereal Bar & Comic Shop, owned by WWE wrestler Colin Delaney, alongside Jason Hilton, Nick Andolina, and Liz Andolina. It was also a coffee shop. And a cereal bar. And a comics lending library.
The store still seems to thriving, according to social media posts. But it appears there has been some… disquiet. To put it mildly. Lots of allegations are being thrown around, what runs below is what various involved parties have made public, and each disputes the other's version of events. You'll have to come to your own conclusion.
Owner Jason Hilton posted on the store's Facebook page,
This is Jason the owner and founder here. I'm a little emotional and tired from working 14 straight hours but, I just want to say that we are so thankful to the community, media, friends, family, business leaders, artists and everyday people who support us. The many, many, more who stand with us and are for us. I'm super thankful to our employees who have been with us through all the transitions. Believing in and standing by us. So many of you lead with love and support. You build us up. We love you and love serving you. There's a lot more coming too.. Thank you!! #poprocisfinallyfree #success ifheisforuswhocanbeagainstus #romans831 #protectthishouse #poproc @ POP ROC Cereal Bar & Comic Shop
Pop Roc is finally free? From what? One back and forth response reads
So what's going on? In mid-September, the store closed and gave this reason.
We're sorry for any inconvenience but we will be closed this weekend for some "house cleaning". We'll keep you updated on our progress and look forward to serving you soon. Enjoy your last weekend before fall.
And some time after that weekend,
We'll be closed for a little longer friends. But we promise to fill you in real soon. There's lots of great stuff happening and we can't wait to share it.
With one response reading;
Danielle Degaugh *sneezes* sorry I'm allergic to bullshit
Posts at the end of September for an event at the store saw people question if the store had reopened, and responses to those posts have been deleted. But then the store had a series of Hallowe'en related event posts with shots from the store. So it was definitely open. So what went down?
Fellow owner WWE Wrestler Colin Delaney's Facebook page tells a different story. At the end of September, he posted;
Since a lot of people have been asking, I wanted to hop on here and address something very important.
Last Friday, Pop Roc locked its doors and has now been closed for a full week giving reasons like "cleaning" or "renovations" but the truth is that at 5pm last Friday, Jason Hilton texted myself, Nick, and Liz Andolina and informed us that Pop Roc LLC would no longer be allowed to operate out of 337 East Ave and that he was changing the locks and police would be called if we attempted to enter. His name is the one on the lease, so he is using that to attempt to take Pop Roc from us. He's trying to take a business away that we all started together, a business that we've pumped our hearts and souls into for the last year and a half. A business that I've spent 14 hour days at, 60+ hour weeks at, all because I love it and believe in it and want to provide the best possible experience for our customers. I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm gonna keep fighting. Pop Roc isn't one person. Hell, it's not even just the 4 people who started it. It's all of us. And I love you all. ❤️❤️❤️ #PopRocForever
Hey guys, as a lot of you already know, Pop Roc has been highjacked from Nick, Liz, and I. So while we fight legally to get it back, we are out of the shop, unable to make money there, as well as racking up legal bills every day. Our friends at OuterHeaven have been cool enough to double their Halloween party/Open House as a bit of a fundraiser for the heart and soul of Pop Roc. Friday October 25th, 936 Exchange st. It's free to swing by, donations are welcome. There will be Pop Roc signature Mocktails and cereal on hand, in addition to a special Pop Roc colab shirt from OuterHeaven. Mostly, I miss all of your faces, so swing by and talk comics/pop culture and have some Halloween fun!
Hey all, I've been on the road traveling all day so I haven't had a chance to respond to all the messages and all the Facebook love but I wanted to say from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU! You have no idea how many times recently I've felt hopeless and feel like totally breaking down from everything happening with Pop Roc. Everybody's support means the world to me. I'm not going to stop fighting and none of you should either. Jason Hilton deletes all the comments that call him out for wrong doing? Who cares. He needs to know how we feel. How all of us feel. He didn't take this place away from just Nick, Liz, and I, he took this place away from so many more people who considered this their place. A safe place that no longer exists for so many. I can't even tell you the amount of messages I've gotten since all of this went down from people who felt personally scammed and wronged by Jason. All of your voices should be heard too. He can go out and call other people "childish" and say everyone else is trying to "ruin the business" but YOU ruined the business when you locked your business partners out and started selling assets of a business that wasn't and still isn't solely yours. So yes, I'm going to keep fighting and I want all of you to as well. Don't support one mans theft and greed. Supporting Pop Roc at 337 East Ave right now is telling one person that their morally bankrupt behavior is acceptable when it's not. I will fight this til I'm dead and in the ground. #FreePopRoc#PopRocForALL
With plenty of supporting comments from his fans. Though Jason has his own, of course, from that most recent of posts up top… but it also seems that dozens have been deleted, including one from John Cimino that Jason replied to directly, saying.
While I believe whole heartedly the nature of your inquiry is to side with Colin & Nick and anything I say will have little effect on your personal opinion, I hope this helps others. I will also be posting an official response to our page shortly. It has been going through rigorous legal review to maintain verifiable and irrefutable truths. Hence the time it's taken to respond.
The nature of a partnership in theory and in legal form are two different things. When this article was written there was no formal partnership agreement in place and there still isn't. When you form a corporation there are certain rules and regulations that must be met to maintain a "partnership". There is also a fiduciary responsibility to all parties that must be upheld. One of these is called "capital contributions". There's also what's called "acting in bad faith". And lastly there needs to be a signed operating agreement to finalize any partnership.
Colin & Nick both made decisions without consulting me about how POP ROC was supposed to be ran in an effort to further there own needs and not the best interest of the company. They lied about legal representation they claimed as personal lawyers when the lawyer was hired, unlawfully as the proposed company lawyer. They worked against me when I asked for a fair dismissal and proper capital contributions be made. They refused to ever put in even a nickel to the business. While I personally invested over $50,000 dollars (with receipts and records to prove it). Then they tried to push me out of the business that is in my name and I, and only I, have invested in. That's the "acting in bad faith" part. Colin was caught on camera stealing money during a transaction where he sold a Chuck Norris funko pop to a mutual friend of ours who verified the transaction. You know him well. Ask him. My personal property became missing and they ignored my inquiries. Their actions also left us without being able to pay state mandatory taxes and vendors. Colin has taken money month after month, week after week, without regard to the fiscal responsibility of the company. Nick cashed out. Remember, they got paid to be here. They didn't have anything stolen from them. They used my money to pay themselves. While I spent 3 months without taking a penny. To the extent that I was forced to go to food banks to feed my family. They claim they worked in the business and that should require they get paid and then claimed I didn't. All this has been shown to be a lie, while neighbors, employees and guests see me there as much if not more than anyone else. All the vendor accounts are in my personal name, all the loans and rentals agreements are in my personal name. All the risk and responsibilities in my name. All because the "partnership" you are referring to, never existed. So to protect the company and my personal assets, as clearly stated, they were removed. We shut the doors for many days while addressing multiple code violations that had been left unchecked by all.
Lastly, there has never been a signed operating agreement.
So, let's review.
No verified capital contributions.
Acts of bad faith.
Misuse of funds.
Trying to screw their "friend" out of his investment.
Multiple code violations and bad practices.
Not signed agreements.
What I find amazing too, just to throw it in here, is how much they can go around posting to social media how much they loved the business and asking people to share the negativity but almost never did the same to push the positivity of the business when they were here.
Also look at the many people who have gone out of their way to trash the business who have never actually been in here as a result of the character of the people who claim to love it.
Look as they stand by and watch people attack the business and their "friend".
No doubt all parties will have plenty more to say… anyone for fruit loops?