Sarma Melngailis’ Pure Food and Wine was once the destination for raw, vegan fine dining in New York City, but it looks like it may be gone for good.
After the initial employee protests over unpaid wages in January, the restaurant (and its take-out little sister, One Lucky Duck) shut down and Melngailis vanished. She surfaced later, to apologize for the issues and say she was working on a solution, and then was able to reopen, with many of her former staff in place, in April.
But according to Gothamist, everyone involved was still being served a very raw deal by Melngailis. Employees walked out again in July after three weeks of payroll problems, the restaurant once again shuttered, and Melngailis disappeared yet again.
Now, the workers have filed a class action lawsuit demanding back wages and penalties for her failure not to alert them of mass layoffs. Melngailis is also being sued by The Asparagus Trading Company (really, that’s the name), an investor who fronted $31,000 to help her reopen and now says she siphoned off funds that were supposed to go to stabilizing the business. (Is your head spinning yet?)
With all of the lawsuits—and even the threat of jail time for Melngailis—it feels like the final death knell for the long-time healthy hotspot. Although, employees “are also speaking with investors and hope to reopen Pure Food and Wine under new ownership with stronger employee protections,” Gothamist reports.
Which may mean there’s a chance raw foodies will be able to have their raw lasagna again, without that side of labor violations?—Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit Gothamist.com
(Photo: Facebook/Reclaim Pure Food and Wine)