The owners of hit New York City Indian restaurant Babu Ji, which expanded in November to San Francisco, are closing their East Coast location amid a wage theft lawsuit, the second being faced by owners Jessi and Jennifer Singh, as Eater's New York branch reports. The first was settled for $95,000 after two employees alleged last July that the owners were pocketing tips and denying overtime pay to them. The owners did not admit wrongdoing according to Eater's coverage of that settlement, which occurred in October.
However, a second suit against the couple was filed in September, which claims the two took credit card and cash tips from employees from May through December 2015 and didn't pay overtime for that period. Instead, plaintiffs say they were given a a flat, $600 weekly fee for up to 60-hour work weeks. Most non-managerial employees are required by federal law to get time-and-a-half pay for work weeks of more than 40 hours.
Eater uploaded the lawsuit here, which is brought by Maimon Kirschenbaum, a well-known restaurant labor lawyer in New York. It's due to be tried by jury. Where the allegations get more explosive is in an amended brief, filed in February 2017, which alleges co-owner and chef Jessi Singh approached one of the plaintiffs in the second wage lawsuit, a server, and threatened him over the suit.
“You know that in India a man paid $100,000 rupees to have someone’s family killed," Singh allegedly told the plaintiff n Hindi. “If you’re fucking my family I’m going to fuck you up. I’m going to fuck your family," Singh allegedly said. "I have a lot of money, I can legally fight with you. You already screwed me up by suing, so why are you coming to work? You come into work and then take my money.” Singh allegedly called the other plaintiff, another served, a "sisterfucker." Threatening retaliation for filing a lawsuit would be in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and local New York labor laws.
Now Babu Ji's Mission location, on Valencia Street, will be its only one: According to Eater, its two-year-old East Village location, on Avenue B, will "close for an indefinite period."
In January, Chronicle food critic Michale Bauer favorably compared San Francisco's Babu Ji to New York's version in a positive review. Before that New York restaurant, Jessi and Jennifer Singh, who met in San Francisco, began operations in Australia, with three now-closed restaurants that were heralded as among the best Indian offerings in the country.