Yesterday, Joe Bastianich likened the lawsuit brought against Babbo to a shakedown, and now the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Maimon Kirschenbaum, has something to say. He tells Grub Street, “I find it bizarre that someone who’s accused of stealing money from his own waitstaff would turn this into an issue of being shaken down by their lawyer. Notice how he has no specific defense — he knows he’s a thief.” And it’s not his only response to Bastianich: Kirschenbaum has now, along with the law firm of Outten & Golden (another notorious player in the area of minimum-wage claims) amended the lawsuit to include plaintiffs Jeffrey Cutaiar, a former server at Otto; Chris Ell and Chris Forbes, former servers at Casa Mono; Jesse Patrick, a former bartender at Bar Jamon; Diana Dietrich, a former server at Lupa; and Paul Toro, Roger Caro, and Daniel Jansen of Tarry Lodge.
Kirschenbaum says that after two Babbo employees brought the original suit, he got calls from Batali employees (“a significant number, higher than ten”) saying they had received similar treatment. “They take a percentage of the wine sales — 4 to 5 percent depending on the restaurant — and they simply cut it out of the tip pool, or in a restaurant where there is no tip pool they cut it out of the waiter’s tips.” Bastianich’s “shake down” quote appears in the amended complaint, which you can read below. His words clearly rubbed Kirschenbaum the wrong way. “He talks about a judge throwing it out as if he knows the judge and he’s going to throw it out,” he tells us. “Judges don’t just do that.”