The Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare shut down last month amid a dramatic court battle between owner and head chef, both of whom threw around accusations that the other funneled cash out of the business, according to court records and reports.
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare owner Moe Issa, named in a July lawsuit filed by the restaurant’s long-term chef, confirmed last month that two new chefs will replace Cesar Ramirez when the eatery reopens in October. The restaurant is set to reopen with Max Natmessnig and Marco Prins, who both worked at the restaurant previously, as co-leads.
As for the new look of leadership: the team says they will maintain the 13-course tasting menu format. “There can be fun and warmth,” Natmessnig noted. He come to his new post in New York from a German two-Michelin-starred Alois-Dallmayr Fine Dining. Prins was most recently at a Rotterdam restaurant called Grace.
But Ramirez is still holding out hope on millions in restitution, court records show. The 14-year chef says he was dismissed “without cause” in July — a decision he says will cost the restaurant tens of millions of dollars in missed payments and damages, court records show.
Ramirez’s celebrated menu raked in $430 per head and booked up months in advance, a source reported. The restaurant opened in Brooklyn in 2009 and eventually moved to Hell’s Kitchen.
But the ugly restaurant battle has left a significant smear on the New York institution — and even left excited customers stranded.
Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare first opened in 2009, before relocating to its current home in Midtown West. The fine dining restaurant’s parent company, Brooklyn Fare, has several grocery stores in the city.
Customers were not alerted to the sudden shutdown, arriving at the restaurant, which had been open for more than a decade, to find that their $430 per person meal was canceled. Meanwhile, employees were allegedly caught in the crossfire, given no notice that their jobs would be terminated, and told guests that the kitchen as is was “unsafe” to operate.
Ramirez claims he has been denied agreed-upon salaries totaling $12,757 a week, the suit states. Issa denies this accusation, saying the two had agreed on a new pay structure for tax purposes, court records show.
All the while, owner Issa accused Ramirez of stealing goods and plotting a new venture despite being a 25 percent shareholder in the restaurant — claims Ramirez says are “false and malicious,” court records show.
In an affidavit, Issa accuses Ramirez of taking nearly $400,000 in goods. Goods Ramirez claims he purchased and loaned to the restaurant, he said in the lawsuit. “After I confronted Ramirez about his theft in July, he confessed in a recorded telephone call that he had taken this property and that he would return all of it,” Issa said in an affidavit. “He never returned any of it.”
Issa also denied Ramirez’s claims that he had embezzled and misappropriated huge amounts of money, court records show. But as the drama unfolds, Issa is charging forward. Reservations have already opened for the swanky eatery’s reopening.
“Our future is bright, and we look forward to all of you being part of it,” Issa concluded.