It's a commonly accepted notion that one has to be a bit nuts to go into the restaurant business. In New York, chances of survival is slim, chances of scoring huge profits, even slimmer, making things fairly stressful. Given all this, some restaurateurs are in a category of their own, criminal. From the minor offenses like going batshit crazy on a plane and small time possession to getting charged with torture and murder, Eater now presents New York's Restaurant Industry Most Wanted. Any big ones missing? Add them in the comments so we have an exhaustive list.
12) Richie Notar: The Nobu managing partner recently joined the inflight embarrassment hall of fame after unfortunate mixture of pills and wine resulted in quite a scene. Passengers next to and behind him had to be moved from business to first class and eventually a flight attendant had to be stationed next to him. "Finally, the crew managed to get a pair of flex cuffs on him, though he tried to bite them off." While Notar wasn't arrested, it's an embarrassment for both man and restaurant.
11) Dan Kaufman: This guy is evidence that shady restaurateurs don't just set up shop in Manhattan. Kaufman's mini empire in Brooklyn at one time included The Busy Chef, Blue Pig and The Oven. All of these operations literally shuttered over night when allegations came out that Kaufman had stolen over $25,000 from customers. But, as if that wasn't bad enough, it was reported that Kaufman went completely old school "they closed it up at 11 — they just shut everything down and started throwing out the food."
10) David Burke: It's no surprise that Burke, who's known as a bit of a loose canon, makes an appearance here. This summer, he allegedly went nuts on his driver by punching him and slamming his head in the trunk of the car. After factoring in additional details from the victim, things only get worse for Burke: ""He called me a piece of s- - -, - - -hole, lazy mother - - - - - -, which wasn't unusual. He said, 'Give me the keys. You walk home.'" Dinner at Townhouse, anyone?
9) Ekkehart Schwartz and Vasileios Giamagas: What happens when a "former mercenary/accomplished killer" and a 70-year old German architect decide to open a restaurant in the East Village? Well, they find out that things aren't so easy. So, Schwartz and Giamagas turned to extortion to relieve their $250k in debt. Needless to say, things didn't really work out for these guys--the landlord immediately went to the police.
8) The Owners of Saigon Grill: For nearly two years, the management was locked in an epic wage dispute battle with their deliverymen. After it was clear that the near constant picketing outside the restaurant wasn't going to stop, it became clear that this thing was just waiting to explode. After losing a lawsuit against said workers, the couple who owns the place were charged with 151 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree with regard to wage violations, 45 counts of tampering with physical evidence and 46 counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree."
7) Gerry Giakoumatos: While calling the owner of a FiDi deli a restaurateur might be a bit of a stretch, this guy's entertaining enough to make the list. Behind a set of unmarked doors in the rear of his deli Cordato's, he allegedly operates "Dirty Mikes," a bar that comes alive after five when it fills with "girls offering $10 lap dances." The whole conflict exploded when Giakoumatos went in front of CB1 to apply for a cabaret license "because he had a jukebox." The board argued that he was lying, but somehow ended up approving the license anyway.
6) Nello Balan: There's some pretty kooky details out there about the Nello and Southampton Nello Summertimes owner. For one, the dude says he's the direct descendant of Vlad the Impaler, the guy who inspired Dracula. That's heavy. But Balan solidified his status on this list when he was arrested for beating his girlfriend and admitting to "kicking her in the groin and asphyxiating her with his knee." Serious jail time? Nope, Nello ended up being sentenced to a 26-week domestic violence course.
5) The Hookah Crooks: Ah yes, Hade Bade, the notorious East Village hookah bar/underage sex club. With items on the menu like the "First Date" where patrons got a meal (including wine to get your lady plastered and non alcoholic beer for the gents) and detailed descriptions of "how to get a female date drunk, apparently to take advantage of her." They've also got a "VIP" bed where guys can seal the deal. Well, you can see why this place was raided by the cops, who found twenty minors drinking and yielded this gem from a police source: "they were just plain gutsy."
4) Josh Woodward: It's been a tough year for celeb chef Govind Armstrong. First his highly anticipated New York debut Table 8 gets slapped with a goose egg from Bruni. Then his Miami location of the restaurant files for bankruptcy. Recently, in what is certainly the most bizarre entry on the list, Govind Empire co-owner Josh Woodward was arrested and booked in LA for the murder of his wife's unborn child. In an even zanier twist, the fact that Woodward was unable to post his $2 million bail (see aforementioned bankruptcy) turned out to be a moot point; the police failed to present their case with prosecutors within 48 hours, thus allowing Woodward to walk for now.
3) El Chod: The much talked about restaurateur/star of Tuesday's With Jeffrey wasn't always spending all of his time opening restaurants. In 1994, Chodorow was convicted of "federal charges of defrauding the U.S. Department of Transportation." Twas a white collar crime, and he got off with four months in jail and three years probation.
2) Ed 'Jean Luc' Kleefield: Per an excellent reader comment, we've added, Jean Luc. The owner and operator of a crumbling empire of Hampton restaurants, has been arrested at least four times this year for writing bad checks both to employees and his landlords. He once owned successful UWS bistro Jean-Luc, which closed years ago, and is hoping to make his Manhattan return in Battery Park City. Good luck getting those investors.
1) The Three Generations of Cipriani Criminals: One name that must be added in here is, of course, Cipriani. Both father and son Giuseppe and Arrigo were convicted for tax evasion for not paying over $10 million to the city. It later caused a big hullabaloo with the SLA which debated revoking all licenses, given felons are not allowed to be licensees. As for the third generation? That's an assault issue.