One of New York City’s best restaurants has closed temporarily while a lawsuit between the chef and the owner winds its way through the courts.
The Michelin three-star Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare quietly shut down in July, after executive chef César Ramirez was fired by owner Moneer Issa, Insider reported on Friday. That month, Ramirez filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court alleging that he had been “arbitrarily terminated … without cause, notice, or justification.” In addition, he claimed that he is owed tens of millions of dollars for unpaid wages, defamation, and other damages, The New York Times noted.
In response to Ramirez’s lawsuit, Issa said in an affidavit filed this month that the chef was fired in part because he had stolen restaurant equipment that Issa believes is worth about $400,000. In a letter dated July 17 that Issa sent to Ramirez and his wife (who is listed as a co-plaintiff on the lawsuit), Issa wrote that the chef had taken dishware, oven parts, and wine, including two cases of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti worth nearly $30,000. In addition, he accused Ramirez of recruiting Chef’s Table staff to leave for a new venture (reported to be in the works at 333 Hudson St.) and exhibiting abusive behavior toward both restaurant employees and customers.
“The foundation of any partnership is trust and good faith. You have violated that trust and have acted in bad faith,” Issa wrote. “You act as if Company property is your personal piggy bank. The Company will now be dissolved, and you will not have any further role with it.”
For his part, Ramirez claims in the lawsuit that he bought “very high end and expensive equipment, furnishings and accoutrements suitable for the most elegant, luxurious and discriminating gourmet tastes,” which he then loaned to the restaurant. When he was fired by Issa, he says, he sought to take back those supplies.
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare first opened in 2009, moving in 2016 to its current location in Hell’s Kitchen. Before shutting down in July, the restaurant served a $430 tasting menu focused on Japanese seafood prepared using French culinary techniques. William Miller, a spokesperson for Brooklyn Fare management, told Robb Report in an email that the restaurant would reopen in October with a new creative team. (Sources familiar with the situation say that the entire front-of-house and back-of-house staff will be staying on.)
“Ramirez was recently terminated for cause,” Miller said. “We will have an announcement around a new creative team with a track record that demonstrates they can meet and exceed our exacting standards for service and culinary sophistication.”
According to sources familiar with the situation, about 80 reservations have been impacted by the temporary closing of Chef’s Table. The restaurant is reaching out to those diners and hopes to accommodate them when Chef’s Table returns later this year.