A Handful of New York City’s Italian Restaurants Are in Hot Water

Restaurateur Nino Selimaj files for bankruptcy protection for a handful of his Italian restaurants in the city

Long time restaurateur and businessman Nino Selimaj filed for bankruptcy protection for a number of his Manhattan-based restaurants on Monday, with wage violations being a contributing factor according to Crain’s.

Selimaj filed for Chapter 11 for Nino’s Tuscany Steakhouse on West 58th Street with plans to file for an additional four area restaurants including two other Nino’s locations reported The New York Times.

More than 20 years ago, Selimaj immigrated to the United States from Albania. Over the years he built a restaurant empire including Nino’s at First Avenue and 72nd Street, Nino’s Bellissima Pizza, Nino’s Positano, Osso Buco, and Scarpina Bar & Grill according to Crain’s.

Problems started to emerge nearly three years ago due to the economic downturn and have continued to compound for the restaurateur. In 2010 the State Attorney’s office discovered that Selimaj was overworking and underpaying staff at Nino’s Positano, violating wage and hour laws. The state agency alleged that waiters, busboys, and runners were working as much as 70 hours a week but were only paid for 40 hours. In addition, prep cooks, dishwashers, and other employees were underpaid by $100 each week reported Crain’s.

Selimaj was ordered to pay $515,494 in back wages last year. In order to make the payments Selimaj borrowed $350,000 from a merchant account advance company, AdvanceMe Inc. of Kennesaw, Ga. The company required Selimaj to pay back the full amount within four months, which Selimaj was unable to do. AdvaneMe Inc. sued Selimaj for not making the payments on time according to Crain’s.

The first restaurant Selimaj filed Chapter 11 for, Nino’s Tuscany, is as much as $1 million in debt reported Eater.

Sean Flynn is a Junior Writer for The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @BuffaloFlynn.