Evicted bar owner charged with failing to pay worker
WESTPORT — The owner of the 323 Main Street restaurant that closed suddenly last month for failing to pay rent is once again embroiled in legal trouble, this time for allegedly failing to pay an employee nearly $1,000 in wages.
The bar’s owner, Weston resident Adam Faillace, was arrested on Jan. 19 in connection with a state Department of Labor investigation that began after a 323 employee contacted the state saying Faillace, 39, did not provide full payment for work done at the restaurant.
The labor department’s Wage and Workplace Standards Division looked into the complaint and discovered Faillace owed the employee $962.60 for work performed between September 2017 and November 2018. From May to June, the investigating agent set up four meetings with Faillace to review his payroll records and discuss the wage complaint, but Faillace did not show up for any of these meetings, the labor department wrote in a description of the case.
The agent mailed Faillace a bill requesting payment for the employee, but as of July 2, Faillace had ignored the request. A second bill was sent on July 22, but again Faillace did not respond to the agent’s request. The agent sent Faillace three more letters and requested a meeting on August 17, but Faillace allegedly answered none of the department’s attempts at contact.
An arrest warrant for nonpayment of wages and failure to provide time and wage records was submitted by the agent in August. On Jan. 19, the Weston Police Department took Faillace into custody on the outstanding warrant.
Faillace was transported to Westport police headquarters and charged with weekly payment of wages and failure to provide time and payroll records. He was released after posting a $2,500 bond for the charges and is scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Norwalk on Jan. 29.
A pattern of misdeeds
The labor case and arrest is the latest in an ongoing series of legal and public perception battles Faillace faced as owner of 323, which he opened in 2013. The restaurant came under fire in August for listing a cocktail called “The Tuskegee Experiment.”
The name Tuskegee Experiment refers to the U.S. government’s 40-year medical experiment that left hundreds of African-American men with syphilis untreated, so scientists could study the progression of the disease. The study began in 1932 in collaboration with Tuskegee University, a historically black college in Alabama.
Home to a bar, dining area and, on many nights, live music, 323 was previously a vibrant place on nights when popular performers played, such as Westporter Greg Wall, otherwise known as the Jazz Rabbi.
But after Faillace refused to apologize for the Tuskegee incident and even denied the cocktail’s existence, Wall and his bandmates stopped playing their usual Thursday night gig and moved the event to Westport’s Pearl at Longshore.
“When it blew up, all they had to do was apologize. But they denied it and came up with lame excuses, and when it was clear they weren’t going to apologize we stopped playing,” Wall said.
Faillace’s restaurant was dogged by mismanagement and nonpayment of rent, 323’s landlord Dominic Santella said. Santella went through the court system to evict Faillace and on Dec. 4, a state marshal locked the doors of the establishment, Santella said.
Santella, a Darien resident who grew up in Westport, also owns the shopping plaza next to 323.
“It was a matter of time. It wasn’t run very well, which is too bad. It’s a wonderful location and I’m hoping someone will run a nice place there,” Wall said in December.
Santella said he is looking for a new tenant for the property and has a lot of interested people.
“It should not take long,” Santella said, noting 323 will most likely again be a restaurant under new ownership.
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