When Sarma Melngailis and Matthew Kenney co-founded Pure Food and Wine, they had something new and exciting on their hands that was very important. Soon after it opened in 2004, the high-end vegan restaurant became very popular.
However, after a decade in the business, Sarma mysteriously vanished and was later jailed for fraud, which led to his demise. The restaurant’s stock went down because of a dispute about underpaid wages.
In Netflix’s “Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives,” the show talks about her relationship with her husband, Anthony Strangis, and how she took money from the business to give to him.
If you want to know how much money the restaurant made and where it went, here’s what we know:
Sarma Melngailis’s Source of Income?
Sarma did not start her career in the food industry. She graduated from the prestigious Wharton School in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in economics in the 1990s.
After working for a couple of investment firms, Sarma realized that cooking was her true calling and enrolled at the French Culinary Institute in New York, where she graduated in 1999.
The Commissary was founded in 2001, two years after her friendship with chef Matthew Kenney, who was also her boyfriend at the time.
Two years after it closed, Sarma and Matthew partnered up with investor Jeffrey Chodorow to create Pure Food and Wine in Manhattan, New York. The restaurant’s vegan raw food menu quickly garnered a following, attracting celebrities such as actors, athletes, and supermodels.
Furthermore, the restaurant was considered ahead of its time for its exceptional high-end vegan offerings.
Magazines like New York Magazine and Forbes have consistently named Pure Food and Wine as one of New York’s most outstanding restaurants.
Sarma extended her company swiftly by opening One Lucky Duck, a vegan juice bar, as well as an online store selling snacks and food prepared at Pure Food and Wine.
Sarma built two more One Lucky Duck sites after a successful expansion, one in Chelsea Park, New York, and the other in San Antonio, Texas.
Raw Eating/Real World and Living Raw Eating, both on raw vegan food, were also published by Sarma. The restaurant was on its way to profitability, according to the episode, despite the fact that it had to contemplate debt due to the investors who put money in.
At one point, Pure Food and Wine had annual gross sales of $7 million. Everything had come undone by 2016, with employees walking out over unpaid salaries and Sarma and her husband getting arrested for fraud.
Sarma Melngailis’s Net Worth
Sarma’s successful enterprises were shut down one by one when she was imprisoned, leaving her in debt. When Sarma went to prison, she had a net worth of almost $1.5 million. According to the episode, she now owes over $6 million to her investors, staff, and others.
Before She Went To Jail, How Much Money Did She Send To Anthony?
Sarma and Anthony met online in 2011 and married the following year in December. Officials believed that by the time they were captured, Sarma had transferred around $1.6 million from the business to her personal account, while Anthony had lost $1.2 million in gambling.
Furthermore, they both spent nearly $150,000 on high-end watches and European holidays. For their actions, both were later sentenced to brief prison terms followed by probation.