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Failed Vegan Restaurant Pure Food & Wine Begins Crowdfunding a Comeback

Staff walked out of the restaurant earlier this year, after they hadn't been paid for over a month. Now the owner is determined to reopen.

Nick Solares

It's been a little under three months since the entire staff of Pure Food & Wine walked out of the raw/vegan restaurant, with owner Sarma Melngailis MIA and their paychecks more than a month overdue. The Union Square restaurant and its Chelsea Market offshoot, One Lucky Duck, have been closed ever since, but in February Melngailis did resurface, promising in a lengthy, woeful blog post (since taken down) that she was trying to secure the funding to not only pay her unpaid staff but also to reopen.

In early March she revived that promise, with another lengthy blog post. After a lot of philosophizing on what went wrong, she gets to the meat of it: It seems that in time between the restaurant closed an now, Melngailis managed to find a buyer overseas, who would take over corporate operations and leave her to the creative stuff. As she explains it, her long term goals have always been to turn One Lucky Duck into a multinational brand. But that deal recently fell through, so now she's selling shares of the company to people "who love what we do, and truly care," and finding a "good operational manager" to help run things. She has also launched a crowdfunding campaign, with the goal of raising $50,000. It's a GoFundMe, so she'll be able to keep whatever amount of money she raises, even under the $50K, but she does promise that it's all refundable "until it's 100% certain we're set to go to re-open, although we're pretty much there on that already."

She's confident enough, at least, to tape a sign in the window of Pure Food & Wine that announces the restaurant is "officially preparing to reopen." Meanwhile, in regards to those unpaid employees, Melngailis is remorseful, but still vague on where they've been during this process, and it sounds like they still haven't been paid. At this point, Melngailis is posting regular updates to her blog, however, so keep an eye on that for updates.

Pure Food and Wine

54 Irving Pl, New York, NY 10003 (212) 477-1010 Visit Website