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So, how bad was it at Coco Roco and Olive Vine? • Brooklyn Paper

So, how bad was it at Coco Roco and Olive Vine?

The Brooklyn Paper / Stephen Brown

Just how bad were the alleged labor abuses at Coco Roco and Olive Vine Café? New allegations from the state Department of Labor paint a grim picture of underpaid workers, unpaid overtime and long hours.

At Coco Roco on Fifth Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets, which was cited as owing $214,672 in back pay, state officials claim that a dishwasher worked 66 hours per week and received only $360.00, amounting to $6 an hour with no overtime. One deliveryman allegedly worked 72 hours per week and was paid $210, plus tips.

Seven other employees were reported to endure similar workweeks.

Workers at Olive Vine Café on Seventh Avenue between Lincoln and St. Johns places, which was charged $88,196 for back pay, also allegedly worked outrageous hours for low pay. In one case, a deliveryman who also washed dishes allegedly worked 72 hours for only $260. Three other employees’ wages were also at rock bottom, the state said.

The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Olive Vine Café owner Zaid Demis flatly denied the charges, saying the agency fudges numbers to garner publicity. And Demis said the department doesn’t even get its facts straight — fining him for four years of back wages for a worker who only toiled at the restaurant for four months.

He also complained that he was hit for $75,000 in back wages for “unknown persons,” an odd designation considering it is unclear who will be reimbursed.

The Department of Labor did not respond to Demis’s counter-allegations before The Brooklyn Paper’s biting deadline.

Zack Sonshine, the manager of Coco Roco, did not return repeated phone calls nor respond to visits by Brooklyn Paper reporters.

Coco Roco and Olive Vine underpay their workers worse than other Park Slope eateries, according to the state Department of Labor.
The Brooklyn Paper / Stephen Brown

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