Share |

After Wage Theft Dispute, Maoz Vegetarian Quietly Closes New Brunswick Store

Restaurant Did Pay Worker in Full Following Protests
Maoz Protest
Protesters succeeded in getting Maoz to pay one of their workers, but the store closed shortly thereafter. Lou Kimmel

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ— At least one restaurant won't make it to the end of the city's two-week-long "Restaurant Week." 

Maoz Vegetarian, which had an outfit at 385 George Street, appears to have closed up shop last week, although it was advertising on its Facebook page as recently as July 8.

Protesters in orange shirts were seen on June 19, holding signs saying "Punish Wage Theft", "Stop Wage Theft", "Detener el Robo de Salario", and "No Mas Robo de Salario", along with similar anti-wage-theft messages.

The half-dozen protesters marched around in a circle on the sidewalk, leading to police telling them not to block the sidewalk.

Jason Rowe of Unity Square, an organization that often works in concert with New Labor to address the issue of wage theft, confirms that Maoz was "targeted" for not paying one of their workers.

"They resisted paying, and there were two public pressure actions in front of the restaurant. Following these actions, the worker was ultimately paid in full," said Rowe.

Wage theft is the failure to pay the minimum wage and overtime required by New Jersey and the federal government, and it is illegal under state and municipal law.

The City Council of New Brunswick became the first community in New Jersey to pass a law that forbade the relicensing of businesses that engaged in wage theft.

That ordinance took effect on January 1, and Princeton followed suit with an ordinance of their own recently.

According to New Labor, about 1 in 6 households in New Brunswick are affected by wage theft. Both New Labor and the Unity Square Partnership were instrumental in the effort to get last year's anti-wage-theft ordinance passed.  

Maoz is a small restaurant chain, specializing in vegetarian food, and it originated in Amsterdam in 1991.

Since then, it has spread to locations all over the globe including Paris, Barcelona, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

In the USA, the chain boasts of locations in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Orlando, Miami Beach, Boca Raton, and Austin.  New Brunswick is notably missing from the locations listed on its website

Like many fast-food restaurants, Maoz is a franchise operation, hiring out licenses to businesspeople with restaurant experience and at least a few million dollars in their pockets.

Franchisees also "must be able to find and secure a prime location." Judging from the listed restaurants, such locations tend to be in urban areas or shopping malls.