Fortune House Closing May Be Result of Legal Troubles

The closing of Fortune House, a popular Chinese restaurant on Henry Street, may have been caused by legal problems, in the form of a lawsuit by employees.

McBrooklyn: The restaurant is being sued by three employees — Manuel Chiqui, Angel Miranda-Alvarado and Eddie Miranda-Vasquez — in a case related to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Act covers issues like minimum wage ($7.25), overtime pay, record-keeping, and youth employment standards.

According to McBrooklyn, the place’s official name is “Golden Nut Restaurant” and the suit was filed July 8 in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Perhaps it has landed on Judge Vitaliano’s docket.

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  • Henry

    Huh. i thought it was their terrible food and downright nasty attitude. It doen’t surprise me that they cheated their employees, they’ve been cheating their customers for years. Good riddance.

  • AEB

    Well, well,well! And well!

    Closing until further notice or for good?

    Shudder, however, to think of what will replace it.

  • Mr. Cad

    I miss it. Say what you will, it is still better than Andy’s (no flavor, bland food) and Lichee which overdoes it on the sauces etc.

  • dorachild

    OH NO!!! I love this place! I totally disagree with Henry. I think the food is good, and more importantly reasonably priced. This place was one of my standbys–would go there frequently before catching a movie at the Brooklyn Heights Cinema or to just eat with my friends. Hope that it does reopen soon! What a loss if it closes!

  • Mickey

    Chiqui, Alvarado, & Vasquez don’t sound like Asian surnames to me. Was their food not authentic Chinese?

  • John Wentling

    Lemme guess – all three are undocumented, and not only working illegally, but being exploited as well.

  • Alana

    I love fortune house. Chiqui, Alvarado and Vasquez must’ve gotten their papers and now want to get treated correctly. Next they will be on line for all types of FREE government services (WIC, Foodstamps, public assistance etc.) Sad if they are the reason I don’t have my favorite BH chinese food.

  • harumph

    We like Fortune House as well (esp my children) – but if they are not paying or treating their employees poorly, no matter their nationality – I don’t want to eat their food.

  • Fritz

    Shame on you Alana. First assuming undocumented, second sanctioning exploitation of any worker, third fomenting Reaganite notions of “welfare queens,” and finally blaming the workers rather than the employer for the closing of the restaurant. The US taxpayer makes money on undocumented workers, unless the employer was working them off the books.

  • AmyinBH

    harumph, You are absolutely correct that NO employee should be treated poorly. I was also unaware until reading certain postings that all the delivery workers in BH are illegal immigrants and that if they ever are fortunate enough to become a legal resident they then try to take advantage of the “free” government services. Learned a lot this morning.

  • John Wentling

    Working “off the books” (illegal), failing to claim that income on tax returns (illegal), paying below minimum wage (possibly illegal, may depend on annual gross revenues of employer), employing an undocumented alien (illegal), soliciting employment without authorization (illegal) – seems no one has clean hands in this case.

  • AEB

    I think the point is that scrupulous people do not exploit those they employ, period. That is, at the very least, they pay minimum wage, which is $7.25/hr. in New York State.

  • eg

    This type of exploitation is very common among many Chinese or other South Asia restaurants in Manhattan. There have been many such cases (strikes and lawsuits) by the employees against their bosses. They have not paid the minimum wage, taken their tips, and made to work very long hours. Everyone has to fight for basic decency and legal rights. These workers have financial obligations as well. If our gov’t creates programs that help poor people, why shouldn’t they use them. You can also, if you need it.

  • malanga es malanga

    Mickey, please tell us that you were joking. The authenticity of food has nothing to do with the names of the people that cook, serve, or deliver it. Your favorite French restaurant does not have French cooks toiling away in the kitchen. Yet the food is no less authentic. The same applies to most restaurants in New York.

  • Monty

    I heard they are being sued by everyone who’s fortune cookies didn’t come true.

  • Hicks St Guy

    @Henry, you must live in a parallel universe. I have never witnessed any rude behavior by employees or mgmt at Fortune House, by the customers? more times than can be believed. you are probably one of the latter.

  • Mickey

    Yes, malanga, I was speaking tongue-in-cheek. One of my favorite restaurants is Bridie’s Irish Pub in Queens. Ironically, their kitchen is run by Asians.

  • Sal

    If you remove illegals from all kitchens in NYC, there wouldn’t be many restaurants left standing.

  • EHinBH

    Everyone is so nice at Torture House, as we call it at my house. And it is the best option in the hood for Chinese (Basil Chicken, anyone?). Jeez — what could afford to open there? A Dollar Store? I’d move.

  • Eddyenergizer

    “Torture House” Jeez, how did that name come about?

  • Claude Scales

    Part of the “F” in “Fortune” on the sign fell off, and the small “n” looks enough like an “r” that you can read it as “Torture”.

  • Andrew Porter

    I’ve been going to FH since I moved here in the late 1960s. This place was Norman Mailer’s favorite local Chinese eatery. Although I cut way back on going there in recent years due to dietary restrictions, I will really miss it.

    OTOH, the houses and apartments that back onto it on Pineapple and Orange Streets will likely rejoice that the overwhelming smell of cooking food and oil is no longer pouring out the back.

  • Eddyenergizer

    Oh, so their sign got “Ho Bagged”… I was worried there might have some wickedness going on there after hours…

  • Billy Reno

    Dastardly doings! I believe Norman Mailer is egg-rolling in his grave right now!

  • Middagh Matt

    Pretty shocking that this was the reason for their recent string of being missing in action (as opposed to D.O.H violations, etc.), but hopefully they can resolve any issues with these employees and get their act together. I’ve been moved back into the Heights now for about a month after having moved from Pineapple to Cobble Hill (stroller Hell) for a few months, and not having Fortune House here has been a bummer.

  • Henry

    Actually, dear Hicks St Guy, I’ve seen their surly attitude more than once. Never involved me directly, since I only went there as a very last resort and with no expectations at all, but I know what I saw. But go ahead and defend their sub-mediocre food if that’s what makes you happy and make any assumptions you want about me too while you’re at it.

  • Knight

    I agree with Henry. I’ve been on the receiving end a few times. Just try asking a question when you arrive to pick up a takeout order!

  • Orange Oscar

    No loss. The food was passing at best (apparently good for BH…) I’ve seen enough of the garbage they dump out back and am elated at the hope of the stench ceasing. More importantly is the hope that these employees get retribution for any wrongdoings. Shame on the owners. Hopefully whatever moves into that space is an improvement in every regard.

  • QuicksilverLady

    EHinBH, LOL, It’s called the Torture House in my household too!

  • mhon

    They used to have really good General’s Tao chicken…