How is it possible that mere months after the closing of Babu Ji in the East Village in the wake of a second wage theft lawsuit — this one coupled with allegations of violence and death threats against employees’ family members — could a bigger, shiny-new Babu Ji have opened at 22 East 13th Street?
It turns out that Babu Ji has been rescued by Jeffrey Chodorow, the mega-restaurateur behind China Grill Management, with restaurants like Asia de Cuba, China Grill, and Ed’s Chowder House under its umbrella. Chodorow and his son Zach Chodorow are now the owners of the new Babu Ji, confirms Chodorow. And they’re working with the former owners, Jessi and Jennifer Singh — now employees.
The Chodorows are also listed as owners of the restaurant on the liquor license, and the official corporate name of Babu Ji is now “CGM 13 LLC,” according to public records, likely an acronym for China Grill Management.
Chodorow is no stranger to New York restaurant-goers, as an investor in a long line of places to dine, including the now-closed Fatty Crab and Fatty ‘Cue as well as those with Alain Ducasse. (And who could forget Chodorow’s incendiary move back in 2007, when he took out a full-page ad in the New York Times declaring war on then-critic, Frank Bruni?)
Babu Ji now resides in the space that had been slated for The Mess from Ed Schoenfeld. The real estate switch took place after the Babu Ji lawsuit in March. In February, The Mess displayed its sign, trained its staff, and held friends and family service then went dark just before the change-up. Schoenfeld and Joe Ng are also partners with Chodorow in the two locations of Red Farm.
Going back before The Mess, the Babu Ji address used to be All’Onda where the Chodorows were partners in the restaurant where Chris Jaeckle formerly of Michael White’s Altamarea Group was chef from 2014 until it closed in 2016.
The Singhs just agreed to settle the second lawsuit this week for $130,000 total. Settlement papers filed to public record earlier this week show that each of the three former employees will receive under $28,500 as part of the agreement, while attorney Maimon Kirschenbaum’s firm will receive $44,611. The Singhs did not admit to wrongdoing as part of the deal.
With reporting from Beth Landman