Some possible clarification on the arrest of ex-Porchetta chef Jason Neroni for larceny has come our way, courtesy of the restaurant's former publicist Steve Hall. According to Hall, Neroni claims that he merely signed his own check, something he has done many times. But owner Marco Rivero doesn’t see it that way, hence Neroni’s arrest for petit larceny. Neroni has, Hall claims, been released from custody. However, as Hall's full letter indicates, the Neroni saga is far from over.
Jason with his lawyer voluntarily went to the precinct in Carroll Gardens yesterday evening. I spoke with him last night, after he left the precinct, he is NOT still there. Yes the charge is petit larceny because Jason signed his own paycheck as, according to him, he has done many times in the past.
Marco claims that he is the only person allowed to sign checks, but Jason says he has signed checks for vendors and his staff before. Marco told Jason that he'd drop the charges if he publicly apologized to him, Jason feels he has nothing to apologize for. The working relationship has been bad for a few months now, and Jason had decided to give his notice about 5 or 6 weeks ago. I know this because he told me so. But when push came to shove, Marco told him to leave. I like Marco, we worked with the restaurant for 6 months, but after that he just couldn't afford to continue retaining us. At the beginning Jason worked 7 days a week, he did not take a day off for at least 2 months. He was dedicated to this restaurant, as was Marco.
Let me reiterate that Porchetta was failing before Jason took over, he brought the restaurant critical acclaim, but from what I hear the restaurants FOH was not supportive of what he did behind the stoves. I haven't worked with them since the end of January so I cannot comment on what went on, only what I am told. I have not spoken to Marco.
Running a small neighborhood restaurant is a difficult business, chefs such as Jason want to stay creative and innovative, but eventually and unfortunately the public feels like a hamburger. Owners want turnover, but when everyone wants to dine between 7 - 9pm that is virtually impossible, so they go down the block where they can get a table. Bills pile up, corners start to get cut, and owners start waiting on tables. Then the experience starts to wane, and customers disappear. It takes at least a year to establish yourself and get a regular crowd, many times owners cannot wait that long. Such is the saga of Porchetta. Let it rest, so both men can move on in their careers.