By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Police in Sevierville, Tennessee arrested former Pure Food and Wine owner Sarma Melngailis, 43, and her husband, Anthony Strangis, 35, on charges of grand larceny, wage theft, tax fraud and labor law violations on May 10. Gothamist reported that the pair was busted because of a Domino’s delivery order, a surprising meal choice for the former owner of a high-end vegan restaurant, although Melngailis has since said, in a “jailhouse interview” with the Post, that the pizza was actually for her husband.
The couple was incarcerated at Rikers Island on Wednesday, May 18 after being extradited from Tennessee. Melngailis made bail the following Tuesday on a $250,000 bond, while Strangis is still at Rikers on a $300,000 bond.
Melngailis and Strangis had been on the run since last July, when workers walked out of the restaurant on Irving Place because they hadn’t been paid for weeks, forcing the business to close for good last summer. This was following a prior closure at the beginning of last year, also due to workers reportedly not being paid.
Although Pure Food and Wine and the One Lucky Duck juice bar were located in Manhattan, the Brooklyn District Attorney is prosecuting the pair because Melngailis ran the companies from an office in Bedford-Stuyvesant as one interconnected enterprise.