Saturday, February 13, 2016

Slow Saturday Special: Pizza For Lunch

I was thinking of calling one in to my favorite pizza shop before heading out to due some errands late this morning so I thought I'd serve you a slice first:

"Controversial chain Upper Crust opening Beverly Hills location" by Megan Woolhouse Globe Staff  February 12, 2016

Upper Crust, the Boston pizza chain that sank into bankruptcy following allegations of exploiting immigrants and violating wage laws, may find new life catering to the real upper crust. The brand, bought out of bankruptcy by a company backed by a Boston private equity firm, is opening a location in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The new pizza shop, expected to open over the next few days, will be co-managed by the chain’s founder, Jordan Tobins, who lost control of the company in the 2012 bankruptcy. Tobins, who said he is an employee, not an owner, acknowledged he had made mistakes in operating the chain, which grew to 20 locations, mostly in Greater Boston.

“We’re moving forward,” Tobins said Thursday. “We put the mistakes of the past behind us.”

Upper Crust’s expansion to Beverly Hills is the latest turn in a saga that was the subject of a 2010 Globe investigation. The Globe documented the relations between Tobins’s company and workers recruited from a small town in Brazil, as well as Upper Crust’s failure to pay them minimum and overtime wages as the gourmet pizza chain expanded quickly.

Workers sued the company in 2010, and US Labor Department ordered Upper Crust to pay $850,000 in back wages and damages to the workers. Upper Crust filed for bankruptcy 2012, listing $3.4 million in debts.

Its assets were sold at auction to pay creditors. UC Acquisition Co., which is owned by Ditmars Ltd., an investment fund managed by Quabbin Capital Inc. in Boston, bought several Upper Crust locations at auction in 2012, including shops in Lexington, Wellesley, Watertown, and Boston’s South End.

UC Acquisition, which is opening the Beverly Hills shop, also bought the Upper Crust name, its recipes, and logo of a dandy in a top hat delivering a pizza by bike.

Tobins and his wife, Stefany, remain the subjects of a lawsuit filed by a bankruptcy trustee appointed by the court to recover money for creditors. The suit claims that the Tobinses fraudulently withdrew some $1.4 million from the company to finance a lavish lifestyle.

The withdrawals included more than $266,000 over four years to pay marina fees on Cape Cod, in Florida, and other locations; $80,000 in restaurant bills; $50,000 for Mercedes-Benz payments; and a $25,000 deposit on an Osterville house, according to court records.

Woa, bit of indige$tion there.

The transfers led to the company’s eventual bankruptcy, the lawsuit alleges. Mark G. DeGiacomo, the bankruptcy trustee, declined to comment.

Tobins said he is thinking about the future of the chain on the West Coast, not his past in Boston. John Snow, managing director of Quabbin, declined to comment on Tobins’s continued involvement with Upper Crust.

Is that former Treasury secretary John Snow?

Tobins said he was hired by UC Acquisition to oversee the opening of the Beverly Hills shop and any future West Coast locations. He said he moved to California a year ago.

Tobins said the hiring and training of the 10-12 person Beverly Hills staff are handled by a co-manager at the location and UC Acquisition’s human resource operations in Massachusetts.

“I didn’t go to school for business management, I didn’t have guidance and I made some mistakes,” Tobins said of his past problems. “This company, they don’t make those mistakes.”

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer representing former Upper Crust workers, said she objected during proceedings in US Bankruptcy Court to the sale of stores to a firm affiliated with Tobins. Liss-Riordan said she hopes employees, suppliers, and other creditors are able to recover money as a result of the bankruptcy trustees’ lawsuit against Tobin.

How about a free pizza instead?


I would say go the delicatessen, but it stinks of a psyop.

Good thing about pizza is there are always leftovers.