The latest spin on 'World' affairs: workers not paid

THE REAL DISH

February 06, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

Label this "As the World Turns."

When we last checked in with the now-closed World CafeXBar, a landlord-tenant dispute had shut down the funky ethnic restaurant with some resolution expected soon.

Now we hear that days before the place closed, eight staff members walked out to protest working without pay. Executive chef David Sarfaty says he and seven other employees left Jan. 3 after working for nearly three weeks without receiving paychecks.

They have filed suit against the restaurant to recover what Mr. Sarfaty says is roughly $5,000 in back pay.

That's not restaurant partner Gregg Mason's version of it, though. Mr. Sarfaty's "not fully informed," he says. "It's true that when the doors locked we didn't have access to material to pay people. Everybody's time card is in there. We're trying to resolve all that. We instructed them to file [suit] to protect themselves."

The issue is expected to be resolved in court next month. Meanwhile, some ex-Worldies have landed new jobs around town, including Harbor Court, Cafe Hon and Thai Landing.

As for the future of the World, Mr. Mason says it's possible the restaurant will reopen. "We have been approached by different people," he says. "There have been offers for the restaurant, the space. We're keeping all those options open."

But for now, problems seem to be mounting at this once-happening spot on East Lombard Street.

GOURMET ON THE HILL: Bolton Hill has a new hangout -- Cusack's, a gourmet cafe-store at 1501 Bolton St. Located where Budlow's used to be, the week-old venture is owned by Buzz and Dennis Cusack, contractors who have a business nearby.

They've brought in Laurie Rome, most recently of Sutton Place Gourmet in Pikesville, to manage and cook.

A longtime vegetarian, she makes a point of offering meatless choices, including vegetarian soups, sandwiches and entrees. Sandwiches sport cutesy Baltimore names like the Mount Royal (roast beef and havarti with horseradish cream on a baguette) and the Lyric Italian Roll (scallion cream cheese, ham, salami, provolone and hot pepper rolled up in wafer-thin Armenian cracker bread). Sandwich prices range from $3.79 to $6.99.

Ms. Rome makes many of her own sweets here, including gelato, sorbet, muffins, brownies and cookies.

The owner-contractors clearly knew the sleek bistro style they were after. To achieve it, they've decorated with black leather chairs, glass-topped tables and marble counters.

Hours are Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

TROIA'S TIMES TWO: It's mainly pasta and completely Troia's. The "it" we're referring to is Mainly Pasta in Hollins Market. The stall with the white counter and old-fashioned bar stools is owned by Ernesto Troia, of Troia's, the popular Italian restaurant in Towson. He serves some of Troia's signature dishes here at discount prices. Look for linguine and shrimp, penne with pesto, lasagna, spaghetti pie, pizza and "hot pockets," which is puff pastry filled with bananas, apples and raisins. Nothing costs more than $5.

While the stall has brought him closer to his son Niko, who helps out at Mainly Pasta, it has meant less time with his brother Gino, who's running the bustling Towson bistro without him. "People kind of miss me there," says Ernesto, "so I make guest appearances on Sundays and Mondays."

Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

MENUS, MENUS AND MORE MENUS: We've received so many menus in recent weeks we've gained five pounds just reading them. Benny's, 2701 N. Charles St., has branched out. Partners Benny Gordon and Drew Hawkins have gone from offering a buffet to a full-fledged menu with Cajun, Creole and American dishes. There's sauteed catfish, shrimp etouffee and jambalaya, each under $10.

Jean-Louis Palladin, chef of Jean-Louis at the Watergate in Washington, has come up with the menu for his Great Chef's Dinner on Feb. 28 at the Brass Elephant. It's sounds so, well, exotic. Roasted sturgeon with goose ham and sauerkraut. Stuffed and roasted guinea hen with cardoon gratin and bone marrow. Frisee salad with pancetta and gizzard confit.

Before you pick up your fork, though, take out your checkbook. Tickets to the benefit for the Child Abuse Prevention Center of Maryland are $175 per person. Call (410) 576-2414.

VALENTINE'S IN ANNAPOLIS: Say you want to bill and coo with your significant other and better the world at the same time. It's no easy feat, but it's possible -- in a small way at least -- at "Dine Around Annapolis," a dinner Feb. 13 to benefit local hunger relief.

The evening begins at 5 p.m. at the Chart House and proceeds to Fergie's via street trolley. Other stops include Loew's Hotel, Buddy's Crabs & Ribs and Carrol's Creek. Tickets are $100 per person. Call (410) 360-3572.

Have news about local restaurants, chefs or clubs? Call (410) 332-6156 or write the Real Dish, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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