Today’s news:

Busy chef closes! Co-owner’s arrest led to demise

The Brooklyn Paper

The disgraced Busy Chef restaurant empire has closed amid a criminal investigation into former partner Dan Kaufman, who is accused of swindling $25,000 from customers’ credit card numbers.

All four adjoining restaurants — the upscale pizzeria, Oven; the Blue Pig ice cream shop; the Wine Bar at 50 Henry Street; and Busy Chef — closed on Monday night, making for a dark corner at the former foodie-destination at Henry and Cranberry streets in Brooklyn Heights.

“They closed it up at 11 — they just shut everything down and started throwing out the food,” a source said.

An e-mail to one owner, Alan Young, was not answered.

But a source familiar with the investigation said he may know why the restaurants closed: “They can’t afford to pay people — they’re not making money to pay the employees.”

Cops arrested Kaufman, 34, on July 17 and charged him with 19 counts of identity theft and grand larceny for stealing customers’ credit card numbers and pocketing nearly $25,000 since February. He was released on a $50,000 bail on July 18.

The District Attorney is expected to release an indictment this week, and cops have said that more victims have come forward.

According to the criminal complaint against Kaufman, an employee quietly began collecting evidence against his boss, who also allegedly asked employees to run charges for him — some of them fraudulent.

When an employee asked Kaufman what he was doing, he allegedly brushed off the questions and answered with “nonsensical responses,” prosecutor Wilfredo Cotto said at Kaufman’s arraignment on July 18.

Despite the allegations and wide news coverage of the so-called “Busted Chef,” customers were still stunned when the eatery closed.

“No way!” said Stephanie Wackerman, 38, of Brooklyn Heights. “I had no idea it had closed. I bring my kids here every week for a little treat. That’s such a bummer.”

Another resident was sad for the employees.

“So all three places are just closed now? That’s a shame,” said Jack Dawe, 67. “I know the owner got himself into a lot of trouble, but to just close the doors on everyone that worked there, that’s a real shame. They’re good people.”

When Busy Chef opened last spring, it quickly became popular with a growing segment of Brooklynite: the harried office worker who appreciated the shop’s prepared, single-serving dinners.

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Shield from Gowanus says:
Very interesting coverage of this story, but calling these stores "foodie-destinations" is a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it speaks to the dearth of interesting restaurants in Brooklyn Heights and downtown.
July 30, 2008, 12:45 pm
bob from brooklyn heights says:
yes, it does. the heights definitely needs more "mainstream" eateries like the henry street ale house, someplace you can eat at once or twice (or more) a week. the french place on henry is great but hardly a spot for a daily meal.
July 30, 2008, 12:49 pm
no need to know from VT says:
Yep, he's a pathological liar. Lied about every job he's had to not have to pay child support! I know first hand!!!!
July 30, 2008, 6:15 pm
bob from heights says:
as someone who worked at these places i can tell you that the owners alan young charles petri and david seets were using these places as a front. they will open again as they do every year with someone new in charge. these guys are smart.
July 31, 2008, 3:21 pm
Ed from Brooklyn Heights says:
Shut it all down and turn it into a large apartment or a supermarket. Maybe a place that I can buy shirts and ties on the way home from work. These locations are cursed and none of them were really that good.
Aug. 3, 2008, 10:50 pm
NEIGHBOR from Brooklyn Heights says:
The restaurants named above, while perhaps employing some decent and ethical folks, were less than mediocre in quality and embarassingly lacking professionalism/consistency.

Time to ask: Why do these locations attract only inept or criminal restrauteurs?

The locals I've discussed this with all agree that the seemingly sleazy cabal that dominates this lovely neighborhood's sub-par eateries should get out and stay out.
Aug. 4, 2008, 1:48 pm
mom from caledonia says:
hey no need to know....

how do you know that?

someone that should know.
Aug. 4, 2008, 9:19 pm
jane doe from Brooklyn Heights says:
Hah! So not surprised. I worked at Busy Chef when it first opened. We were basically instructed to lie to customers and claim that all the food was made from scratch. This was simply not the case. Guy with pathological liar comment, I agree.
Aug. 5, 2008, 9:19 pm
Rachel from Queens says:
this is hilarious. i used to work at busy chef. i quit because it had become apparent that my manager W* was addicted to cocaine. Also, i couldnt deal with the mental anguish of selling that food to unaware, undeserving customers. i remember selling a donut one time, and the guy spit it out, i gave him his money back and tasted a donut myself, and it legit tasted like fish oil. my co-worker E* then dumped the tray of fish donuts into the trash and when Dan saw it he screamed at her about all the money she just cost him. This guy was a serious scum bag to the max. He was ripping people off just by selling that stuff. Im not surprised of what he's been caught doing. He deserves what he gets.

oh p.s
—— you dan.
Aug. 6, 2008, 4:01 am

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