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?
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.