When a swarm of angry bees attacked Cipriani Wall St. yesterday, it was just one of many problems that the storied restaurant family has faced over the past few years. Generally, Cipriani restaurant problems are nowhere near as cartoonish as the bee attack (nor as fraught with biblical undertones) but their history of disputes with the state, their employees, food purveyors, and landlords is a rich and interesting one filled with scandal, intrigue and several theatrical flourishes. We now present a concise look back at some of the finer points of the Cipriani family’s recent restaurant drama.
08/01/07 : Father Arrigo and son Giuseppe Cipriani plead guilty to tax evasion, with over $3.8 million in unpaid back taxes. They agree to cough up $10 million in restitution, and avoid a jail sentence.
05/09/08: The SLA threatens to take away Giuseppe Ciprianis' liquor licenses, citing the tax evasion charges, and suggested unauthorized use by other members of the family.
08/06/08: The dispute over the liquor license is curiously settled when the family doles out $500,000 to the SLA.
Fall 2008: Giuseppe and Arrigo both expatriate to Europe, leaving fourth generation Cips, Ignazio, then 21, and Maggio, then 19, to watch over the empire at home.
11/24/08: The head of the SLA says that he was he was pressured by the governor's office to vote in favor of granting the Cipriani family liquor licenses. Two weeks later, the aid to Governor Patterson accused of pressuring the SLA head resigns.
01/08/09: Eater obtains a photo of a sign posted by a purveyor to the Cipriani restaurant group which states that no deliveries are to be made to their restaurants, presumably until they paid up on overdue bills.
08/01/09: After disputes with landlord Tishman Speyer, the Ciprianis vacate the storied Rainbow Room space.
11/02/09: Vanity Fair publishes an extensive profile on the Ciprianis, now back in NYC, with Arrigo noting of their expatriation: “Somebody wanted to kill us!... Maybe they still do.”
12/22/09: Shortly after returning to America, Giuseppe Cipriani is slapped with another lawsuit from a group of employees across the Cip Network for violating labor laws.
05/31/10: A massive swarm of bees attacks Cipriani Downtown.