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The Saga of Las Colinas Prime: Unpaid Workers And Bills, TABC Raids And Harassment, Ctd.

The plot at Las Colinas Prime continues to thicken.
The plot at Las Colinas Prime continues to thicken.

Two weeks ago I reported on the situation going on at Las Colinas Prime. After several calls and e-mails from disgruntled employees, I interviewed Michael Costa, the man responsible for operating the restaurant. I printed the complete transcript of the interview.

Since then, several more people have come forward in the comments section.

From JS on July 7:
“I worked for them for less than a week when it was still called Republic. It was I and another waiter and we only had 6 tables in those couple of days. I never met or ever heard of [owner] Bill [McCrorey]. I was told by Brian Luisi that Costa owned it and Brian was the manager. I did see the expensive scotch and vodka bottles be filled with cheap versions. I was NEVER paid and I’m not the only one. I let it go because it was more of a joke than anything else. Brian gave me **** for quitting but I had the most uneasy feeling while working there. And there concept of having a bar in the fine dining room and crappy 90’s dance music in the other should say something.”

From David on July 15th
“Well the restaurant is still open and running. They are doing well, so I guess the hot shot attourney (sic) above didn’t get them shut down and everything said must have been a lie. …Its sad disgruntled people resort to childish slander. This should be about the restaurant, the food, drinks and the service. As far as the sign company, what kind of idiot puts a sign up without being paid first! If they really owed the money for the sign, the just go get it. Yet the sign is still up.

After reading Costa’s interview on SideDish, former co-manager Scott Adams called me. He was hoppin’ mad and wanted to go on the record. Here are excerpts from his side of the story.

SCOTT: Where do I start? It was such a mess, I have never worked anywhere in my life that was such a mess. And it was a mess the entire time I was there.

NN: Have you been in Dallas for a while?

SCOTT: Yeah, I grew up in Fort Worth and I’ve been in Dallas for 22 years. I’ve been in restaurant management for about 10 years, and never experienced anything like it. A mess is just a nice word for it. They’re not being truthful with it.

NN: When I talked to the other manager Brian Luisi, he told me that  he wasn’t arrested.

SCOTT: That’s bullcrap. I was there. They marched him through the dining room on a Friday evening.

NN: Costa said he turned himself in [to the TABC].

SCOTT: Yeah, they did not turn themselves in. In fact, the first night that TABC and the Irving police showed up, Michael was on the patio eating with his girlfriend and her daughter. He saw them pull up and jumped the railing and got into his car and took off.

NN: Is it true that the TABC guy was hassling Las Colinas Prime customers?

SCOTT: The stuff about the TABC hassling people is true. We had a party of eight black women at one table celebrating a birthday and they went up under the table with flashlights, and these women were wearing skirts. They jumped up and said “What the hell are you doing?” And they said “Shut up, sit down.” Yeah. That’s true.

NN: What a place to work.

SCOTT: I was the co-manager with Brian Luisi. I worked there for two months, it was all I could stand. Plus, I wasn’t getting paid, so it was a Catch-22. If I stopped working I wasn’t going to get paid, but if I kept working I wasn’t going to get paid.

NN: So did you finally quit?

SCOTT: Yeah, and this went on on a daily basis, people not getting paid. Employees going, you know, I’ve got two weeks of credit card tips coming to me, when am I going to get my check? Well, Monday. Well, Monday comes around, they forgot to do it. So now, Wednesday. Wednesday’s here, and oh, the accounting people forgot to write it. Friday comes, they made a mistake, they wrote it on the wrong account. Tomorrow comes, it’s just one story after another.

NN: Well Costa went on the record and said he was going to pay everyone.

SCOTT: That’s just a line.

NN: Do they owe you money now?

SCOTT: Yes.

NN: What are you doing to try to get it?

SCOTT: Well, three of the servers, a dishwasher, and myself have filed wage claims with the Texas Workforce Commission.

NN: So what happened the day TABC came in and raided?

SCOTT: Well, we did have customers that night, it was a Friday. The TABC came in with several agents and the Irving Police Dept and went straight to Brian and held him in the office and were questioning him. Then they came to me and were asking me where Michael was, and I said I thought he was on the patio, and they are right behind me. And his girlfriend and her daughter are just sitting there, and there was a guy behind them pointing over the rail as I was asking where Michael was. And the guy is pointing over and down– Michael jumped over the rail and took off.

NN: So they didn’t catch him then but he still could have turned himself in later.

SCOTT: I know for a fact he did not.

NN: I can’t find any warrants out for his arrest.

SCOTT: He got stopped for a traffic violation about three weeks later. After that night he was absent, I didn’t see him again. It was three weeks after the [TABC] incident with Brian, I didn’t see him for three weeks, and Brian told me he had been pulled over for a traffic violation and they took him in.

NN: Well, okay, I’ve given them their shout. I’m glad you came forward, I’m gonna go with it and use your name.

SCOTT: Sure, I’m telling you the truth. They have not done that. Brian did get arrested. They also took me in the office, they ran my license, gave it back to me. They took him through the dining room in cuffs to jail. He was back the next afternoon.

NN: According to Costa, the charge was that a former manager had brought in beer that was not purchased through the right channels. What was going on there?

SCOTT: What Michael had told me was that the accusation was buying wine from a liquor store and bringing it in and refilling bottles of top-shelf wine.

NN: So the TABC came over a series of weeks just to let you know they knew what was going on? Was the refilling still going on?

SCOTT: I never saw it, and I was there all the time.

NN: The whole TABC thing is dangerous to play around with. If you are there and you know that they are investigating, and you didn’t see the refilling, did you and the group of employees who were then fairly united, did you feel that refilling was something that they [management] were capable of, or maybe something the former manager did and was let go for? Did you guys feel like you were feeling the repercussions from past incidents?

SCOTT: The feeling of most employees was that there was something going on with that business but we couldn’t put our fingers on it. Some employee saw Lance refilling the bottles and must have reported it to TABC. They got rid of him. Then nobody gets paid.  The not getting paid business made us shake our heads.

16 comments on “The Saga of Las Colinas Prime: Unpaid Workers And Bills, TABC Raids And Harassment, Ctd.

  1. I’m no fan of any government agency that bullies people, but in the end it sounds like the TABC did the general public a favor in this case. Here’s hoping that every employee of the place gets paid in full – thanks Nancy for staying on top of this disgusting story and continuing with your follow through. No doubt, if the little guys do get paid you will be due some thanks for your efforts on their behalf.

  2. TABC and some of the rules they enforce are absurd. Not asking someone for their Unicard carries the same penalties as carrying two ounces of weed or DWI.

  3. Also, they don’t even have to cite you. They can just haul you off to jail and charge you with “TABC Violation” then wait up to two years to even tell you why you were arrested.

  4. Thanks WG: Note to TABC: when looking for Costa always stake out the parking lot first.

  5. As far as I’m concerned and I think I speak for alot of people out there, they should kept Michael in jail and threw the key away.

  6. hello this person has done this befor for lots of years .where he has not paid anyone costa was the same person running veino and basso in dallas and he killed that everyone needs to know that its people like him that kill the rest: buss: and STOP GIVING HIM MONEY TO RUNN RESTAURANTS

  7. NN: Here’s a reprint of my comment on these two when your story first came out, I think my comment still holds true today:

    The infamous Michael Costa and Brian Luisi are quite well known lowlifes to anyone even remotely connected to the food & bev business in the D/FW area for any length of time. Even the mere mention of their names produces a throat clenching reflex for the many folks they’ve left in their wake.

    Here’s their usual vulture-like M.O. — they are famous for contacting restaurants that are already on “life support” and giving the ownership their whole tired song and dance spiel of a “rescue” by putting everything under their control. Then they bilk and raid anything they can that’s not nailed down until they’ve sucked the place dry. Then they move on to the next carcass. Real simple folks.

    Why these two have not been tarred and feathered while being chased out of town with lit roman candles stuck up their respective arses is beyond me. However, the visual alone of Costa “jumping a rail to escape the police” proves that there is at least some poetic justice left in this world.

    BTW: They’ve never “turned a restaurant around” Nancy — not once. Check it out if you want. They just burn a whole lotta good employees with bad checks and empty promises – not to mention all the lies they said to weak owners who ultimately got completely screwed by these two. Anybody remember Costa and Brians rape of Nellies to name one out of many examples??

    Reread the Stuertz expose’ that some sharp Disher mentioned earlier. It says just about everything there is to say about these two losers.

  8. Those guys need a karmic @sswhipping. I hope the employees and vendors get paid.

  9. I complained to Mr. Costa and Brian that I worked two weeks there at Nellies without a paycheck being a cocktail waitress and they said they would pay me as soon as they could. I was told to just wait for awhile. He said I did a great job there but when they closed Brian and Mr. Costa would not even look at me or talk to me. This was in my opinion was being very unfair.

  10. Brian was arrested for a warrant that had been issued for little parking ticket the night they stormed in and mr. casta was there that night he jumped the patio when they stormed in and cuz he jumped and ran it pissed off tabc for watever reason so they took the next guy in the line of attority for watever the could and it happened to be a unpaid parking ticket poor little bastard
    Brian Luisi my be a very nice man but he is just a little lap dog if you ask me, the torch guy the one to take the heat

  11. How is Bill Mcrorey still able to own and run a business, even after owing more than $ Half A MIllion Dollars in taxes at his Uptown Republic.

  12. They really need to look in to the way he is financing his places. I have seen two transactions that show money being borrowed and colaterlized with a piece of land and alegedly be spent on a seperate entity all together. Then the land being taken back by the bank for not completing the project. Yet the money was still paid out. Makes you think.

  13. Well, its all over now. Michael Costa and Bryan Lusis have succesfully driven ANOTHER restaurant into the ground, and made off with who knows how much money in their pockets.When will Michael and Bryan learn that you can’t screw people over like this and continue to get away with it….it’s called CARMA, and it WILL come back to haunt you…it always does. They are grown men and shouldnt be behaving this way.