Upscale Gastropub Spitzer's Corner Paid 'Poverty Wage,' Lawsuit Claims
LOWER EAST SIDE — A former employee at the Lower East Side gastropub Spitzer's Corner is suing the restaurant for allegedly paying him as little as $2.91 an hour while he worked as an apprentice under former executive chef Sung Park.
Edward Kim, who worked at the Rivington Street eatery from March 2010 to January 2011, alleges he was misled about his duties, believing he would receive a first-rate culinary education but instead performing menial tasks while working up to 90 hours a week.
"I worked for them as hard as I could, sometimes 19 hours a day, because I was promised I would be trained by as skilled a chef as Chef Park," said Kim.
"I never even took a day off. Now I realize they exploited me to get basic kitchen labor for next to nothing, for as long as they could. I gave up so much time and energy. I feel like they've set me back on my dreams."
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the suit on behalf of Kim against Park, owner Robert Shamlian and general manager David Moon.
Kim said he believed he would learn how to prepare dishes, but instead worked as a prep cook, cleaned and ran errands.
His hourly pay was allegedly so low because he was told not to clock his hours as he was "on salary."
"Chef Park and Spitzer's Corner misused the apprenticeship label to pay a young worker poverty wages and deny him an accurate accounting of all the hours he worked," Shirley Lin, AALDEF staff attorney, said in a statement.
"Although the defendants have already profited from their scheme, the law requires them to compensate Mr. Kim for the prodigious amount of work he performed week in and week out."
An employee at Spitzer's Corner said there was not someone available to immediately comment on the story.