AZ Labor Dept.: Valley restaurant owner stiffed employees - WFSB 3 Connecticut

AZ Labor Dept.: Valley restaurant owner stiffed employees

Manuel Anthony Cisneros Manuel Anthony Cisneros

Antonio's Bistro touts itself online as offering Italian cuisine for delivery in Tempe and Scottsdale.

But a former employee who contacted CBS 5 News issued a warning for potential hires and customers.

"I was promised to be paid in two weeks," said Michael Coe, who responded to a Craigslist ad last spring for a delivery driver at Antonio's Bistro.

"When that time came, he would show me his bank account - how it's overdrawn, how someone stole some money or he was on hard times," Coe said. "It would always be a new excuse every time I would ask him."

After living on tips and not getting a paycheck for two months, Coe reported owner Manuel Anthony Cisneros to the Arizona Labor Department – which filed a lawsuit against Cisneros.

In August, a judge ruled in favor of Coe and another employee to the tune of more than $2,200 – which Coe said he doesn't expect to collect.

"I'm basically just cutting my losses at this point," he said. "I wanted to come out and do this and talk to you, basically, so more people wouldn't fall into this trap."

A review of Cisneros' past and present reveals a long rap sheet – with theft and forgery charges dating back to 1995 and as recent as last month.

"A simple Google check on his name would've revealed that he was a career criminal, and I wouldn't have started the job, and I would never have been in this spot," Coe said.

Coe said he also wants to warn potential customers.

He said Antonio's Bistro moves from place to place – sharing kitchens with other restaurants when he can.

"He made us move up to his house, and we did deliveries out of his house for three days," Coe said. "The cooking was being done in the house. And then he was delivering from the house to just random people. "

According to Cisneros' website, Antonio's Bistro has two physical locations.

CBS 5 News checked out both.

  • 1753 E. Broadway Rd. in Tempe is a UPS store.
  • 16211 N. Scottsdale Rd. in Scottsdale houses a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and other business - but not Antonio's Bistro.

So there is no telling where Antonio's Bistro food is prepared.

On top of that, we asked and found out that Cisneros doesn't have a sales tax license in Tempe or a business license in Scottsdale – nor does he have a permit with the Maricopa County Health Department or a certified food manager's card.

CBS 5 News called the phone number on the Antonio's Bistro website to get Cisneros' side of the story.

It is a working number, but so far he hasn't responded.

Meanwhile, anyone with information about improper business practices involving Cisneros and Antonio's Bistro is asked to contact the Maricopa County Health Department, the cities of Tempe or Scottsdale, or the Arizona Labor Department, depending on your complaint.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.