Let Them Eat Cake: Chef Bruce Molzan Sends Out Pizza to Protesters

Categories: News

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Photos by Katharine Shilcutt
A group of 25 protesters outside Bruce Molzan's new River Oaks restaurant were faced with an unusual concession this evening.

Corner Table, where the beleaguered Molzan is now head chef, sent out two pizzas to the picket line, delivered by waiters in pressed white shirts and black aprons. The protesters were mostly waiters themselves, along with other kitchen workers who say that Molzan still owes them back wages from his now-closed restaurant Ruggles Grill. Many of tonight's protesters were involved in a similar public display in December 2011, when the entire staff at Ruggles walked out on a busy Friday night after alleging that Molzan owed them back wages and tips totaling $14,000 to $15,000.

This was not a point that Molzan disputed, although he claimed that the "whole thing" had "been blown out of proportion." On December 5, 2011, Molzan told the Houston Press that his waitstaff would be "paid in full" that day.

Laura Perez-Boston of the Fe y Justicia Worker Center, a non-profit that assists low-wage workers, claims that promise never came true. Says Perez-Boston, "he has still not paid the waitstaff that walked off the job at Ruggles."

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Two waiters bearing pizzas head back inside Corner Table after being rebuffed by protesters.
In lieu of payment, the two pizzas came as cold comfort.

"No food; pay me!" one protester began to chant. Soon, the entire line -- predominately Hispanic, with a few supporters from Fe y Justicia and Down with Wage Theft -- was chanting the same refrain.

"That was bizarre," said Perez-Boston of the proffered pizzas. "But it just energized us. We're here for justice."

The raucous protesters drew curious onlookers from the quiet neighborhood off Virginia and Westheimer where Corner Table recently opened. Soon, police cars had been called, too, although they remained parked and silent, simply watching. Corner Table's managers and valets scurried outside amid chants of "Ruggles workers are still in the struggle!" and "No justice, no peace!" from the sidewalk across the street.


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117 comments
Carmen40Jones
Carmen40Jones

I can totally believe this because I use to collect past due money that Bruce Molzan owed my former employer. He owed my former employer over $13,000 and it was my job to collect on his debt. I would send out past due letters, certified letters and even go to his restaurant in an attempt to collect money. Well my boss decided to try a different tactic and so he and about 8 of his family members went to Ruggles, ate very well and left without paying the bill which was almost $1,000. Well that got Bruce's attention and soon after, we came to an agreement that enabled us to dine at Ruggles and the checks would be credited towards his debt. Needless to say, we wined and dined a lot of friends and family and he never paid the remainder debt. He couldn't pay his debt but he was able to buy his wife a new Maserati at the time, and it's ashamed he is still stiffing people, especially the ones who worked for him.

avisfield
avisfield

I will never darken the door of a Bruce Molzan restaurant.   Shame on him!

PeteLenovo
PeteLenovo

Molzan needs to pay the workers. I am tired of corporate corruption. An important news is that Surface Pro tablet is available http://t.co/KTGux7Jw.

Daphne
Daphne

Most companies these days do routine background checks before hiring someone. These checks not only take into account any criminal records but also credit history, matters financial, and public records.

So, I think it's odd that the restaurant would brand itself with the sheen of his local celebrity, while not expecting any baggage to accompany it. This was a problem waiting to happen and it was a myopic gamble that didn't pay off.

Dream
Dream

Molzan needs to pay up. He deserves this protest and shame on Corner Table for hiring him. They knew what they were getting into with Bruce. I support the protestors 100% and I will not go eat at this restaurant while he works there. I live very close to this restaurant and eat out at least 4 nights per week.

The man has a horrible reputation for not paying his bills and mistreating his staff. I've been hearing this for the last 15 years. I want to know if Ruggels Green is still associated with Bruce or if those partners bought him out.

Dream

cyan79
cyan79

Weird situation.  I don't know that I agree with the protest.  Chef Molzan is not the owner of the new place..he is just employed there.  That restaurant is obviously not responsible for his prior debt.  And I'm not convinced that said debt should cost him his job, or that being a shady person financially necessarily has any interaction with how well he cooks food as a Head Chef.


But at the same time, his former employees deserve SOME kind of justice.  Maybe the owner of this restaurant should offer him the following arrangement:  They will garnish X% of each of his paychecks and put it in a fund to pay off the $14-15K that he owes his past employees.  If that is not acceptable to him, he can quit.

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

Hey folks,  I honestly hope these good people get their money.  I just hope this doesn't blow up in their faces.  I've been wrong before.  Peace.

almjr
almjr

Bruce Molzan is a liar and a thief.  He promised to pay his staff THAT DAY, but has never made good on the empty promise.  Back in the late 80s and early 90s when Ruggles Grill was at their peak of popularity, him and his bitch ex-wife, Susan, ran their restaurant the right way.  They succumbed to avarice in later years and even divorced.  Mr. Molzan needs to do the right thing and pay people for services rendered.  PLUS, I cannot believe the widow, Mrs. O'Quinn, even financed him in yet another restaurant venture.  Good luck, Mrs. O'Quinn, on getting your money's worth.  I wouldn't trust Bruce Molzan as far as I could throw him, and that ain't far.  Just leave Houston, Bruce.  Your reputation is SHIT here any way.

Kleinstadt
Kleinstadt

@Daphne  

Duh.

If you hire, or partner with, a notorious deadbeat-about-town, and then use his cache to further your business, why wouldn't you expect this kind of reaction? 

If I make a flagship hire of Jeff Skilling and promote his killer record of ROI in order to get folks to invest, I might find it reasonable that certain people come out of the closet to point out that they lost their retirement saving due to his recklessness. I wouldn't say, "Hey, that was Enron...this is now!". Would I?

OneWorkerAmongMany
OneWorkerAmongMany

@cyan79 The people who have helped start Corner Table are some of the most powerful in Houston's scene. When they choose to promote Corner Table by featuring Bruce Molzan and bragging on him every chance they get, they are exposing themselves to his sins. As long as he is making a dime ANYWHERE and still refusing to pay people he owes, then we will be there. I hope Corner Table's mgmt takes this into consideration.

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@almjr Yes, and the line of cars outside his new place is proof of that.  Oh, wait...

Here's an idea.  File a complaint with the EEOC.  Take him to court.  Get a judgement. Collect the money.  You ain't gettin' shit otherwise.  Unfair?  Yes.  It's called life. 

Do I want to see him pay?  You bet.  I hate being stolen from as much as anyone.  But if you think you are getting a red cent any other way then you are a fool.

cyan79
cyan79

@OneWorkerAmongMany @cyan79 That is nonsense logic, pure and simple.  Just because you employ someone does not mean that you become responsible(or even approve of) that person's previous actions.  They are bragging about his ability as a chef.  And as far as Corner Table needs to be concerned, only his ability as a chef matters.


You are basically arguing that any restaurant that hires him should be responsible for his debt, albeit indirectly.  Or that they just shouldn't hire him.  So what, because he owes some employees some backpay, he should never be able to get a job?


If anything, it should be easy for those employees to take him to court and get a judgment against him if Corner Table is really 'bragging on him every chance they get'.  And if these employees live anywhere in the US, they absolutely have the ability to take him to court over this.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@superbeetle1970 Actually, one employee Jeremiah got paid using precisely this process during the protests at Ruggles Grill previously. So you're wrong.

Dalton
Dalton

@superbeetle1970 @almjr  People piss you off, file a complaint, and if that doesn't work, do something that gets attention and spurs action.

It's called life of the unafraid.

OneWorkerAmongMany
OneWorkerAmongMany

@superbeetle1970  Yeah everyone, take it from this guy. Wage slavery is just part of American life! He obviously knows what he's talking about even though he has screwed up facts about this entire thing in multiple comments, and ignores the complaints that have been filed.

(btw he edited his comment to say that he hates being stolen from, he also ignores multiple workers' histories from all over the world where direct action with demands have achieved what they needed)

superbeetle, only in your privileged world do some of these very poor people have the resources to work the system to recover what.they.are.OWED.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@superbeetle1970 @Kleinstadt @Dalton Corner Table uses Bruce Molzan's name to enhance the value and allure of their business.


Ironically, his name is worth less than shit because of all his previous shady dealings.

Kleinstadt
Kleinstadt

@Dalton @superbeetle1970  

I think superbeetle1970 has a problem with public protests in general. If I'm wrong, maybe he could help us understand under which conditions public protests are justified?

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@Daphne "Linear thinking is for lemmings"  LOL! Can I play?

Integrity is for clowns

Ethics are for fools

Work is for the greedy

And my personal favorite:  Guilt by association is for the morally bankrupt



Daphne
Daphne

You and your 'linear thinking'.

Guy rips people off. Your response: work the legal channels.

Victims work the legal channels, get nothing.

Be advised: Work the legal channels more.

Years pass, no resolution.

Just keep working those legal channels. Have patience!

Great 'linear' logic. Zero results. So what's next?

Oh yeah, patience. Prayers. Forgiveness. Linear thinking is sometimes for lemmings.

cyan79
cyan79

@AidsAidsAids @cyan79 @OneWorkerAmongMany So, how far does your argument extend?  They knowingly associate with 'scum', so they should pay the price?  So..if a member of your family gets convincted of a crime, should they whole family suffer unless they publicly disown the person?  You are clearly going to say 'no of course not'.  But what's the difference?  

The difference is simple.  One person is not responsible nor accountable for the actions of another, unless they were complicit in those actions somehow.

And for the record, I have spent parts of my life making minimum wage and I DO live paycheck to paycheck, based on my own past mistakes that I am still paying for.  So I know exactly what these people went through.  I also know that, if my job missed one of my paychecks for more than a week, I would quit and find another job.  If they stuck around for months hoping that this would work itself out, that was there choice.  And a poor one.  Molzan is still scum and still needs to be FORCED to pay them, but none of that has ANYTHING to do with Corner Table.  Besides, the solution that I offered in my original post was fair to all parties.

AidsAidsAids
AidsAidsAids

@cyan79 @OneWorkerAmongMany Yes, easy for minimum wage laborers who live check to check and need to be at work every day in order to survive.  They should just take him to court.  Got any other delusions to sell us?

Knowingly associate with scum, pay the price.  Simple as that. Corner Table would probably be wise to jettison him if they hope to  come away unscathed.  Somehow I doubt that's occured to them, after all they hired Bruce Molzan, they clearly aren't the sharpest tacks.

Kleinstadt
Kleinstadt

@superbeetle1970 @Daphne @Dalton  

Who said you're pro-apartheid? Nobody. The analogy was drawing on a regime that said 'we didn't do it, leave us alone'. Kinda like the restaurant: we didn't do it, leave us alone. We just inherited this chef and used his name to profit.

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@Daphne @superbeetle1970 @Dalton You really should study up on straw man arguments and try again.  To conclude I must be pro-apartheid if I think it's wrong to protest a business because one of their employees is a deadbeat is as egregious as it gets.

Daphne
Daphne

@superbeetle1970 @Dalton  

I don't find any straw there. It's a good analogy. There were multiple resolutions in the UN condemning apartheid, and South Africa never acted. So then the world community started "waving its arms and shouting" as you might say, by enacting boycotts and embargoes to pressure that justice be done. 

The South African gov't said this is an old policy, not of our making, and said please butt out, and let us operate as we will. Happily, the pressure continued and the problem was solved. 

See the parallels?

Dalton
Dalton

@superbeetle1970 @Dalton  Thanks, and we know where you stood, or sat rather, in the anti-apartheid movement that involved actually doing something to make the government change. 

Sometime you gotta turn up the heat, because sitting around and filing motions gets to be pointless. Read some history.

OneWorkerAmongMany
OneWorkerAmongMany

@superbeetle1970 I think you should take some time to study labor rights movements around the world and at home. There is nothing short-sighted or unsuccessful about pairing direct action with your demands. It can be the only way to overpower someone or something that has more social and financial "worth" than some workers do. Don't be afraid when people speak truth to power, we've been doing it in this country since the 1770s.

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@Dalton @superbeetle1970 And you said "we're gonna ruin a business because a guy that works there owes us money!"  and "we are going to make you pay what you owe us by getting you fired!"

I admire your passion, but linear thought is not your strong suit.

Best of luck in your travails.  You're gonna need it.

Dalton
Dalton

@superbeetle1970 @Dalton  Think you said,  "hey you damn hippie kids, get the hell off Bruce's lawn and go home. Poor man can't even work". 

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@superbeetle1970@MelADavis Protesting Molzan is not dragging Corner Table through the mud.None of the signs said anything about Corner Table, afaik. If they don't like the attention naming their restaurant after Bruce Molzan brings, perhaps they should change the name, and the chef.

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@MelADavis @superbeetle1970  It might be lawful, but it's also despicable. It's just not right to drag a business through the mud because one of their employees is a deadbeat.  I know they are angry about what happened, but that doesn't justify what they're doing.  He should be the target, but they are aiming at his employer.

MelADavis
MelADavis

@superbeetle1970 A lot of these workers probably realize they are not going to see their back wages paid, so they're doing what they can to make sure he doesn't get away with it. Besides, they have every right to protest.  THEY are not breaking any laws. 

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@Kylejack @superbeetle1970 @OneWorkerAmongMany  So, his name on a sign is indisputable proof that he's an owner?  In that case, half of downtown belongs to some kid named POOOON.  

But seriously, I'd let them put my name up there too if it meant having a job.  Just curious, have you even tried talking to the owners?    

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@superbeetle1970 @OneWorkerAmongMany His name is on the freaking masthead, Corner Table By Bruce Molzan. You honestly think he has no ownership stake and is "just an employee"? Honestly??

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@OneWorkerAmongMany @superbeetle1970  I think he's despicable.  I also think it's contemptible to protest a business because you don't like someone who works there.  I could give a shit about what you think about me, son.  I'm just trying to give you a different perspective - something you sorely need.

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@OneWorkerAmongMany @Kylejack @superbeetle1970  If that is a primary objective, then they are successful already.  Ten bucks says they will be gone the instant they get paid (if that ever happens) and they will never be seen protesting there again.  Their principles will only last as long as it takes to get paid.  

OneWorkerAmongMany
OneWorkerAmongMany

@superbeetle1970  I am done responding to you. We have told you countless times about why these protests are happening, how many diff types of workers are owed and you just don't care. You want to see Molzan make a nice little nest egg at Corner Table so that...he can continue NOT to pay people.

OneWorkerAmongMany
OneWorkerAmongMany

@Kylejack @superbeetle1970 Kylejack is exactly right. Superbeetle, you keep acting like the money is the only point, no the point is also to spread awareness about one of Houston's worst restauranteurs. He's a menace to decent hardworking people. Please look into the background of this story instead of continuing to comment and sympathize with Molzan

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@OneWorkerAmongMany @superbeetle1970 Why do you keep speculating he is anything other than an employee at the Corner Table?  Generally speaking - make that always - guys who owe creditors hundreds of thousands of dollars don't just walk away without some sort of legal protection (bankruptcy).  If he has money, they're gonna get it.

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@superbeetle1970 Dude, if you've looked at his history of screwing over vendors, partners, and employees, you'd know that "letting him work" or whatever is not a way to get paid. He has no intention of paying them, so pressure must be applied until he's more compliant.

OneWorkerAmongMany
OneWorkerAmongMany

@superbeetle1970  Why do you keep SPECULATING on the nature of Mr. Molzan's assets? You continue to make excuses or say we should let him buy time instead of standing with those who have been stolen from. If someone owed you $2,000 or $500,000 I'd like the exact amount of time you would gracefully give them to pay you back even while they opened new restaurants and kept their family in luxury vehicles.

superbeetle1970
superbeetle1970

@Kylejack Good for him.  Keep a proper perspective though.  That was one guy, and it was before they closed shop.  Molzan is probably bankrupt now.  He can't give someone what he doesn't have, and he damn sure can't get it if he ain't working.

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