By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — The shuttered Upper West Side restaurant that boasted Lady Gaga and her parents as investors is now the target of a lawsuit by former staff alleging labor law violations.
Employees at Vince & Eddie's restaurant on West 68th Street filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the restaurant, alleging that owners broke state labor laws by under-paying employees, not compensating them for overtime and not properly dividing tips.
The lawsuit names Vince & Eddie's co-owners Peter Digiuseppi and Michael Libretto as defendants. Lady Gaga, who is reportedly a silent financial partner in Vince & Eddie's, isn't named; neither are her parents Joe and Cynthia Germanotta, who are reportedly co-owners.
Attorney Louis Pechman, who represents the restaurant workers, said he couldn't comment on whether Gaga or the Germanottas could be financially liable if the lawsuit is successful.
Digiuseppi referred questions to his attorney, who did not respond to a request for comment. Libretto could not be reached immediately on Wednesday.
Five Vince & Eddie's employees — three waiters, a bartender and a chef — are listed as plaintiffs, but the suit alleges that more than 10 workers at the restaurant have been underpaid.
Waiter Matthew Thomas, a plaintiff, told DNAinfo that employees sought out an attorney after the restaurant closed without warning last month, leaving workers unpaid for three weeks of work.
The lawsuit says Vince & Eddie's labor law violations date back six years.
The complaint claims owners "intentionally, willfully and repeatedly harmed plaintiffs" by not paying minimum wage for all hours they worked and giving the general manager a full waiter's share of the restaurant's tip pool, among other allegations.
The Italian-Continental restaurant, which opened in 1988, is two blocks from where pop superstar Lady Gaga's parents live. The family dined regularly at the restaurant, Digiuseppi told DNAinfo last fall, enjoying dishes such as chicken Milanese, pan-roasted chicken and flash-fried calamari.
But Digiuseppi said he made it a point to not reveal to fans if Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, was on the premises.
The workers' attorney, Louis Pechman, said he couldn't comment directly on the Vince & Eddie's case.
Pechman noted that restaurant employees are often misinformed about their rights; prompting him to start a website, Waiterpay.com, to educate workers.
Pechman, who recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of employees at the now-closed Upper West Side restaurant Niko's, is known for winning a $3.15 million settlement from Sparks Steakhouse in a tip stealing case.
"There has been a steady uptick in lawsuits against restaurants for tip, overtime, and other pay violations," Pechman said. "Restaurant owners need to know that they can be held personally liable for failure to pay their workers the wages they are owed."