Ryan Kopf’s Anime California Harasses, Threatens Maid Cafe Operators After They Refuse To Sign Over Ownership

It seems like if you wanted to find the poster child for unethical con running, Chrono LC/AnimeCon.org’s owner Ryan Kopf appears to be the perfect candidate. I mean, I normally would start out this article pointing you to all the things we’ve written about him — but the very fact that we’ve had to cover him enough where there even is a “normally” says so much right there.

Instead, I’ll just direct you to our Ryan Kopf Tag… and, well, there’s always this thing.

So it came as no surprise when I came across a post by Chuwei Cosplay yesterday which detailed extensively how Ryan Kopf’s Anime California tried to strong arm the Maid Cafe group she was involved in into signing over ownership, and when they refused to, Anime California began a campaign of harassment that boggles the mind.

Buckle in kids, it’s going to be an interesting ride.

Now former CEO of Anime California Jeff Suddarth first approached a friend of Chuwei back in the fall of 2013 about bringing a Maid Cafe to Anime California’s 2014 event. No contracts were signed, and the people behind what would become called “Summoner’s Cafe” operated completely independently from Anime California’s management.

Prior to Anime California 2014, the Summoner’s Cafe group was invited to attend the League of Legends Championship Series. Immediately after the group’s outside exposure, Suddarth sent a contract to the operators of Summoner’s Cafe demanding that they sign it. The contract would make Anime California the sole owner of all the IP surrounding the Maid Cafe, with zero compensation provided. When Summoner’s Cafe refused, things took a turn.

When Summoner’s Cafe withdrew from Anime California and began operating at other events, Suddarth began to send harassing cease and desist letters to Summoner’s Cafe’s sponsors. Even after Suddarth supposedly stepped down as head of Anime California, he continued to openly demean Summoner’s Cafe to potential partners.

Seriously, this is just the cliff’s notes — read the full account here.

Now, to get to the crux of the matter, there are a couple of issues at play here. Summoner’s Cafe operated under the impression that they were an independent group brought in to just run the cafe. Anime California claimed that Chuwei’s friend was brought in as an employee, and that as such any work done for the con belonged to the con. Without any written agreement, it’s all one person’s word against the other’s.

The thing is, regardless of whether it was a misunderstanding or a malicious action on Anime California’s part, if everything Chuwei says is true, Jeffery Suddarth’s repeated harassment of the Summoner’s Cafe is unacceptable. Considering the event’s connection to Chrono LC, it’s not surprising though.

The constant legal threats and ongoing harassment are a ridiculous overreaction when looked at in the best light, and a dangerous, malicious attack when looked at with a more realistic lens. These actions are anti-community, and part of the continuing poison those associated with Chrono LC seems determined to bleed into the con scene.

Or, in other words, business as usual for Mr. Kopf.

This article was edited August 18th. An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Summoner’s Cafe operated at Anime California 2014.

It should also be noted that while Suddarth claims to have stepped down as head of Anime California, he is still listed as the operator of Anime California Inc with the state of California.

Trae Dorn

Trae Dorn has been staffing conventions for over twenty years, and is a co-founder of Wisconsin’s longest running Anime convention No Brand Con. Trae also wrote and drew the now completed webcomic UnCONventional, and produces the podcasts BS-Free Witchcraft, On This Day With Trae, Stormwood & Associates, and The Nerd & Tie Podcast. This leads many to ask when the hell they have time to actually do anything anymore. Trae says they have the time because they “do it all quite poorly.”

16 thoughts on “Ryan Kopf’s Anime California Harasses, Threatens Maid Cafe Operators After They Refuse To Sign Over Ownership

  • August 7, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    I’ve said it a few times but I’m starting to think this company needs to be taken down.

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  • August 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Ryan is such an awful human being, and every time I read anything about him, this fact is just solidified. Dude needs to not.
    (Plus his conventions aren’t great. The only reason they’re attended in MN is because the community is so desperate for conventions that they’ll go even if they suck)

  • August 17, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Hello, I authored the post referenced in the article but would just like to clarify that some facts are off in this article. Jeff Suddarth’s threats, under the alleged guidance/direction by Ryan Kopf, were sent after Summoner’s Cafe attended LCS, which was BEFORE Anime California occurred. Summoner’s Cafe never participated at Anime California 2014. The cease and desist letters were also not sent by Chrono LC. They were sent by Jeff Suddarth, both during his role as CEO of Anime California and after he left the origanization.

    I appreciate the work you do but I do not support changing or making up facts and assumptions from my experience. Thank you.

    • August 17, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      I must have misunderstood —

      So Summoner’s Cafe has never ACTUALLY operated at Anime California?

      • August 17, 2015 at 9:12 pm

        No. As I stated, Summoner’s Cafe was helping to promote Anime California 2014 and was scheduled to perform there, but when the Cafe gained spotlight within the League community while they were promoting at LCS, Jeff Suddarth, supposedly along with Ryan Kopf, tried to force the Cafe owner to sign over ownership and did not resolve the issues needed to achieve a compromise.

        So the cafe chose to withdraw its presence from the convention and did not perform there…. this was also stated when I mentioned we were upset we had to cancel the show so close to the event but we deemed it was in our best interest.

        It may also be worth noting that Jeff Suddarth is no longer part of Anime California and has not been part of it since March of this year. I believe the title of your article is very misleading as it makes it sounds like the entire Anime California staff were part of the harassment, which is not true and completely contrary to what my post says. We only had issues with Jeff and by extension, Ryan to a more minor extent.

        • August 17, 2015 at 9:50 pm

          It really wasn’t clear in your original post what the order of events were (the edit you made on the seventh, a day after the article posted, clarified things a bit). I’ll correct the article tomorrow when I can get to a computer.

          As for Suddarth, he may have “resigned,” but he’s still the listed operator of Anime California Inc with the state of California. As far as the state is concerned, legally he’s still the guy in charge.

          When the legal head of an event takes an action in the name of the event, it’s not inappropriate to refer to the actions as belonging to the event.

          • August 25, 2015 at 5:13 am

            it is true that he is the Operator of “Anime California Inc”- a new organization had to be created, since he would not give up access to the bank accounts- “CALI ANIME” now controls Anime California

          • August 25, 2015 at 7:29 am

            Interesting. I was unaware that legal ownership of the event had changed. How exactly did that work?

            Also, under the new corporation, what’s Kopf’s involvement? Obviously it must be SOME, as assets like the website domain are still owned by him.

  • August 25, 2015 at 2:57 am

    Suddarth and his friends are grade A pieces of shit. He tried harassing me last year cause I didn’t wanna sleep with him, god damn creep!

  • August 25, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    In fair game, staff wasn’t involved at all so, it would be nice to not get lumped in with Ryan’s Anime California Staff…

  • August 26, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    this article sounds super bias… Not good journalism

    • August 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      We also never claimed to be completely unbiased — as, for the most part, we often editorialize here at Nerd & Tie. We first present to you what happened, and then we provide our OPINIONS about that.

      You can go read the original account of one of the people involved if you want — we always include the original source linked in the article if it doesn’t come from our own original research. If that’s all you wanted, you should just read Chuwei’s post instead.

      People come to this site to ALSO find out what WE think about it. To say it’s “not good journalism” is to completely misunderstand what kind of website you’re on.

      And everyone’s biased. Anyone who says they aren’t is either lying to you or at least themself.

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