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Los Angeles Thai Restaurant Chain Fined $1.65 Million for Wage Theft and Denial of Overtime Pay

Plus, a popular Venice restaurant debuts in the Big Apple, Lunar New Year celebrations in Santa Monica, and more

Department Of Labor Headquarters As Economic Hole Remains Deep
The U.S. Department of Labor announced this week that the owner of Ocha Classic is set to pay dozens of workers $1.65 million in back wages and damages. 
Cathy Chaplin is a senior editor at Eater LA, a James Beard Award–nominated journalist, and the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently recovered $1.65 million in back wages and liquidated damages from Prapai Boonyindee, the owner of the Thai restaurant chain Ocha Classic (six locations) and Thai-Chinese restaurant Vim in Panorama City. Boonyindee denied 83 workers overtime wages and kept false pay records in an attempt to hide the wage theft; both actions violate the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to a press release, Boonyindee was fined $62,167 for the “willful nature” of his violations.

Russian cuisine reigns supreme

Food writer Katherine Spiers takes a bite out of three-decades-old restaurant Robert’s Russian Cuisine in her latest review for the newsletter How to Eat L.A. Spiers recommends the comforts of beef stroganoff and hot dumplings, but cannot endorse the Olivier salad.

Celebrate Lunar New Year in Santa Monica

For those in and around the Westside on Saturday, January 28, swing into Santa Monica Place for Lunar New Year happenings from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The celebration includes lion dance performances, balloon and dough artists, and cherry blossom “wishing trees” for attendees to literally hang their hopes on. The celebration will take place on the first level.

Get excited about these new Smorgasburg vendors

When Smorgasburg returns this Sunday, January 8, a slew of new vendors will join the already-stellar food lineup that includes the Goat Mafia, Evil Cooks, and Smoke Queen BBQ. The new kids on the block include cinnamon bun bakers All About the Cinnamon; mushroom-heavy vegan option Champignon Eats; Mexican seafood vendor Correas Mariscos from Boyle Heights, French macaron maker Etoile Filante; Cambodia street food slinger the Golden Skewer, Taipei tea experts Odd One Out Tea; sourdough pizza pros Quarantine Pizza; lemonade operator Queen Squeeze Lemonade; Thai Town favorite Rad Na Silom, and Cambodian fried chicken wing restaurant Shlap Muan from Long Beach.

Smorgasburg takes place every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Row in Downtown and is part of a collection of open-air food markets with six locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Venice restaurant Gjelina opens in New York City

Venice stalwart Gjelina quietly opened in New York City at the start of 2023. According to Eater NY, the menu at the 1,700-square-foot space at 45 Bond Street includes bottarga pizza, a charcuterie plate, and a wine list “heavy” on natural wines.


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