Bread factory evicted after failing to pay rent

Allegations against the recently shuttered Bread Factory have surfaced suggesting that the owner stopped paying student workers in the months leading to the proprietor's eviction after she allegedly failed to pay rent to Santa Monica College.

These allegations follow on the heels of a lawsuit filed on behalf of the college against owner Soo Jeong Pak, who owes $77,000 in unpaid rent, according to the court's judgement, said SMC Counsel Robert Myers.

The judgement came with an additional order evicting the business from campus grounds, which Pak allegedly attempted to halt by filing for bankruptcy.

"We went into court and got an order getting around her bankruptcy and the court dismissed her bankruptcy because [Pak] did not file the appropriate papers," said Myers.

The tenant of 12 years moved out over winter break and in its place are notices asking students to come forward to the SMC Police Department if they did not receive payment from the former business.

The SMCPD declined to comment on the matter.

"The reason we have the signs posted has nothing to do with the eviction," said Myers. "The eviction is a civil matter. However we learned that the owner of the Bread Factory may not have paid wages to a number of its employees and many of those employees were [SMC] students." Myers stated that several people have come forward to report lack of payment.

"I am not at liberty to discuss details," he continued.
It is difficult to determine exactly when the Bread Factory might have lagged in paying its employees. Myers stated that at least one student who has come forward reported not receiving a W2 form for wages in 2012 from the Bread Factory.

"We have different claims over different time periods. Until everyone comes forward it's a bit hard to tell," said Myers.

For former Bread Factory student worker Adam Marangakis, who worked at the establishment from winter 2011 to spring 2012, the sudden fall of the pastry and coffee shop did not come as a surprise. He described an environment where Pak's on site managers allegedly expected precise drinks to be brewed in less than 40 seconds.

"The time in which they wanted us to crank out products you just couldn't do it," he said. "It takes at least 30 seconds to steam up the milk, I told the manager 'you cannot do this in 30 seconds."

For SMC instructors The Bread Factory also offered a conveniently hidden backdoor lounge where they could escape the daily traffic of campus life and chat, drink coffee or read an assortment of magazines and newspapers.

Marangakis was also baffled by the revelation that The Bread Factory allegedly could not afford to pay its licensing fees. "We had really good business. There were always lots of lines during lunch time. Nothing to suggest they wouldn't be able to pay," he said.

Former student workers of The Bread Factory who have not been paid or may have also witnessed other illegal activities are encouraged to call SMCPD at 310-434-4608.

At press date no other former Bread Factory employees have come forward to verify the claims made by Marangakis.

Check upcoming issues of the Corsair and for updates on this story.