NEW YORK – According to the bartenders and waiters at the upscale Nello, the restaurant’s Greek owner Thomas Makkos “stiffed them out of three paychecks, some totaling up to $4,000,” the New York Post reported, adding that “the checks represent the pooled tips of the waitstaff.”
Makkos, 60, a multimillionaire with reportedly owns a townhouse on the Upper East Side, a home in Southampton, and an estate on Fisher’s Island in Florida, did not respond to requests for comment about the situation which followed lay-offs of most of Nello’s 30 workers on “March 19 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo told restaurants to close,” the Post reported.
Nello is now operating for delivery and take-out only with just four employees, while the “laid-off employees’ last checks were issued to them on Feb. 19.”
Among the famous customers, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Jennifer Lopez, Mickey Rourke, and Donald Trump Jr. “are just some of the rich and famous who think nothing of paying more than $100 for a plate of pasta and bottles of wine that employees say were often marked up by 60 percent,” the Post reported.
Three employees said “they’ve called Makkos’ office repeatedly,” the Post reported, adding that Makkos “told them the checks had been mailed out but nobody has received them.”
Makkos as a teenager immigrated to the United States from Greece with his father and brother, the Post reported, noting that “his father began selling hot dogs out of a cart in the city,” and “his sons became vendors extraordinaire who at one point had permits to run thousands of food carts and have since built a portfolio of many businesses.”
A Nello bartender, Anthony Vacca, 32, told the Post, “I am just really taken aback that someone with his money would treat us like this in the middle of the pandemic. Some people have families to feed and they need that money.”
Makkos “lives like a king in Manhattan and the Hamptons. I live in Queens. I have a little bit of savings but I could use that money,” a Nello waiter told the Post.
Another Nello bartender said, “I’m running out of money and my anxiety is through the roof. The brazenness of [Makkos] not responding to us and not paying us is bizarre. There are other employees I know who are down to their last $100,” the Post reported.