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Pure Food & Wine Workers File Class Action Lawsuit Demanding Back Wages from MIA Owner

Owner Sarma Melngailis is also being sued by investors and facing eviction from her apartment.

Workers protesting Pure Food & Wine earlier this year.
Workers protesting Pure Food & Wine earlier this year.
Nick Solares

Six weeks ago, staffers walked out of raw food destination Pure Food & Wine after not being paid in weeks and the restaurant shuttered for the third time this year. Shortly after, owner and raw food icon Sarma Melngailis went MIA, as she has before. The workers, sick of the recurring situation, unionized recently, and now, according to Gothamist, have filed a class action suit against Melngailis. The suit demands back wages for 60 workers, 60 days' pay and $500 per day in penalties for Melngailis not warning staff of impending layoffs as is required by law.

Melngailis is also facing a lawsuit from investors who signed on earlier this year to bail her out of the last financial crisis. Asparagus Trading Corporation claims they gave Melngailis $31,000 to pay July rent and hand over the business. She didn't. The investor claims she stole from that investment. A judge has ordered that Melngailis's bookkeepers to share their records with the court. Since Melngailis has all but disappeared, she is being served with court orders via mail and email. She is also facing an eviction from her apartment.

Meanwhile, the union of staffers hopes to reopen the restaurant with new investors, though that seems to be a slow-going process.

Pure Food and Wine

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