It’s been a rough week for the staff at the Mediterranean Grill, seeing as how almost all of them have been laid off.
According to the former owner of the restaurant, Mike Baffa, this was never intended to happen.
Baffa said he was under the impression the Mediterranean Grill's new owners would keep the business operational for a while longer, and that they would also keep the staff on board.
“Part of the deal was for keeping the employees,” said Baffa, who also said that is why he sold his restaurant to the owners of Fairfield-based and not another interested buyer. He said he lowered the price by $20,000 primarily because he thought the new owners would keep his staff employed. He said this was something of a gentleman's agreement, and had not been written into the actual contract.
“Sunday was a rough day,” he said. “We would have loved to have a party and say goodbye to our customers, and introduce the new owners and all that, but they closed it in no time.”
“The ‘handshake deal,’ was that I was gonna give them a key and they were gonna give me a check. But that’s not how it went down at closing time, which is their choice,” said Baffa.
About 10 employees were let go when the new owners decided to ; Baffa hired two former staff -including manager Rahim Ouloul (pictured) who has worked at the same location, different restaurants, for 15 years- to work at his other restaurant, Fairfield Flip Side. Rahim Ouloul
“[I] Didn’t lose [the Mediterranean Grill], didn’t walk away from it. Maybe [the new owners] did have to do what they did.”
Wilton just too expensive
Despite the apparent misunderstanding, Baffa remained optimistic, saying he wanted to open a new restaurant, which would also let him hire his old staff back. However, when asked, Baffa said Wilton is not a viable location, and that he would not set up shop here again.
“I wouldn’t go to Wilton again. It’s a great town, but there are no spots! I had the best location in town…[and] I couldn’t get the deal I wanted on the lease. [The landlords] keep wanting more and more money, and I’m like I can barely make it as it is,” he said. Baffa had been the business' owner for nine years.
In the restaurant business, “you only have about five hours to make money—if you’re lucky.”But in Wilton, it seems even shorter, sometimes: “It starts at 7:30 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m,” he said, perhaps only half-serious.
“So for five hours a day, you’re generating income, but [money] is going out [the door] 24 hours a day—gas, money, electric, [and] the landlord’s squeezing you.”
“But maybe [the new owners] know something I don’t; maybe they’ll get a nice place going.”
Baffa said his customers can email him to keep themselves updated on where the staff is going to be employed at next.
“We emailed all out customers, so if anyone wants to know where the staff ends up, they can email me at BaffaPCD@hotmail.com. Once I find out where everybody is we’ll send out an email,” he said.
Patch tried contacting Maria Petresis, whom Patch was directed to after calling Andro’s Restaurant, but she did not return the phone call as of early last evening.