Pure Food & Wine employees suing over unpaid wages

Workers rally in front of their workplace last week.

Workers rally in front of their workplace last week.

By Sabina Mollot

It’s the mystery of the disappearing restaurant owner.

The owner of Pure Food & Wine, an upscale vegan restaurant on Irving Place, as well as two local juice bars, has been stiffing her employees for nearly a month, employees said, and on top of that — she can’t be reached by anyone.

The restaurant’s owner and founder, Sarma Melngaillis, has been out of town, supposedly traveling for business. Employees also said last week they haven’t had any contact from anyone from management. That would be an LLC owned by China Grill Management as well as shareholders.

Melngaillis also didn’t respond to T&V’s emailed requests for comment. Calls to the various business locations (including the juice bars, one in Gramercy, the other in Chelsea), went unanswered due to no one staffing the places.

“The owner has not communicated with anyone,” said Allie Coltelli, a line cook. “They’re ghosts. It’s very suspicious.”

Last week, Coltelli, along with one of her coworkers, hired an attorney, and on Tuesday, he filed a lawsuit.

Employees have been told they’re finally getting paid this week, but Coltelli doubts it.

“I’m 99 percent certain that’s not going to happen.”

Additionally, along with wages — which were last paid in late December with checks that bounced — tips for the servers have also not been paid. Tips are pooled and paid evenly to front-house employees with each two-week pay-cycle. The company’s bills have also not been paid nor has the rent, and Coltelli said she heard the restaurant “may be shuttered as early as this week.”

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Crime down overall in Thirteenth Precinct

Captain Ron McCall from Transit District 4 with Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg and 13th Precinct Community Council President Frank Scala (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Captain Ron McCall from Transit District 4 with Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg and 13th Precinct Community Council President Frank Scala (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Crime was down 4 percent in 2014 for the 13th precinct, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg reported at the community council’s first meeting of the year on Tuesday evening. Additionally, while grand larceny has made up 80 percent of the crime in the precinct, those numbers are dropping as well. The year has seen a 22 percent decrease for the crime so far. Overall crime for the year is also down 26 percent in the precinct.

Although crime was down for the precinct overall last year, there were increases last year in specific areas, including robberies, burglaries and felony assaults, with 17 percent, 30 percent and 43 percent increases respectively. All of those crimes have seen decreases since the beginning of this year, though, with the biggest decrease in burglaries, with a 66 percent drop.

Ehrenberg said that the increase in felony assaults last year was primarily due to attacks on EMTs and doctors at the many hospitals in the precinct, but he added that there has been a slight increase in street violence.

“In most cases, it has been verbal disputes that escalated,” he said. An assault can be escalated to a felony if a weapon is involved, but Ehrenberg noted that the weapons involved in most of the felony assaults in this precinct were items found on the street, such as garbage cans, rather than a weapon like a loaded gun or a knife.

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Rents lowered on ST studio apartments

Bedroom alcove of studio apartment (photo from pcvstliving.com)

Bedroom alcove of studio apartment (photo from pcvstliving.com)

By Sabina Mollot

Last month, Town & Village reported that Stuyvesant Town’s newly built studio apartments had finally hit the market. There were five to choose from with prices for the units—none any larger than 500 square feet — ranging from $3,162 to $3,420.

However, the five units are still available, according to the property’s official website, and at a few hundred dollars less than what they were originally listed for.

As of Martin Luther King Day, the units were available at rents listed as “starting at” $2,640 for a 393-foot unit, $2,730 for a 465-foot unit, $2,750 for both of two 500-foot units and the highest priced pick, $,2950 for a different 465-square foot unit. The apartments on Avenue C all feature platinum upgrade finishes and all except one include in-wall (under window) air conditioning. It wasn’t clear from the listings, which units, if any have terraces.

The listings did note, however, that the prices include “all incentives and special offers.”

Like the rest of the apartments in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, they are rent-stabilized at least until the property’s J-51 tax program expires.

In September, Town & Village first reported on the soon-to-come studios, a first for the complex, along with several terraces (another first) to be included in a total of 11 new apartments. The apartments are in the building that formerly housed the management office.

The date of the apartments’ availability has also been postponed by a couple of weeks to February 1.

A spokesperson for CWCapital did not respond to a request for comment on the reason for the price change.