Servers and staff at raw food restaurant Pure Food and Wine staged a walkout late last week after not being paid two weeks in a row. The walkout is the third this year. The first, in January left the restaurant dark for three months. The staff also walked out in late June, but the restaurant seemed to recover for a day or two, only to shutter again. Rent is past due and vendors have stopped delivering produce because they haven't been paid, a staffer tells Gothamist. The restaurant's minor celebrity owner Sarma Melngailis, who went underground in January, apparently "just disappeared again," says the same man. She allegedly texted the GM to say anyone who walks out will be fired.
Late last week, the staff unionized and said Melgnailis's actions are "retaliation" for the team's unionizing efforts. A rep for the union says that that staff is willing to return to work if they're paid what they are owned and a payroll system that Melngailis can't access is set up. "It's not a lot of money, but at the same time it's a lot of fucking money," says the server. "The owner is so intent upon animal rights...which we appreciate, but I find it rather ironic that she doesn't support her workers in any way...She's violated so many of our rights at this point that it's laughable. We would laugh if it wasn't so sad."