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Staten Island Restaurant Accused of Rampant Sexual Misconduct

7 women say a cook at Perkins behaved inappropriately for years

The Hyland Blvd. location of Perkins on Staten Island
The Hyland Blvd. location of Perkins on Staten Island
Linda P./Yelp

The #MeToo movement has hit Staten Island: Seven women who worked for an outpost of mid-level American restaurant chain Perkins in the borough are suing the restaurant — alleging that a longtime cook sexually harassed them since 2001, the Daily News reports.

The women, who were hosts or servers at the 1409 Hyland Blvd. location, allege that cook Humberto Cuenca’s behavior ranged from inappropriate remarks and “gross gestures with bananas and kielbasas” to assaulting a staffer in a kitchen freezer. The employees also allege that complaints to the restaurant’s manager Jacinta Plutzer went ignored, with Plutzer saying that the front-of-house staff was “replaceable.”

In the alleged assault incident, server Stevie Fontana alleges that Cuenca followed her into the freezer and “just started touching me everywhere,” licking his lips as he did it, she tells the Daily News. Pluntzer says that she fired the cook after that incident. But she says it was the first time she heard that Cuenca had done anything inappropriate in his more than 20-year tenure.

The suit, which will be filed Monday, comes as women have been speaking up about rampant sexual misconduct in the industry, with major players like Mario Batali and Ken Friedman getting called out for years of inappropriate behavior. It’s particularly bad in restaurants; according to data from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, people who work in restaurants have filed more sexual harassment claims than people in any other industry.

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