Restaurateurs opening 2 businesses in Amherst face nearly $500K for violations at Eastern Mass. restaurants

Downtown Amherst over North Pleasant Street looking toward the Holyoke Range.

Downtown Amherst over North Pleasant Street looking toward the Holyoke Range. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 02-23-2024 6:27 PM

AMHERST — Business partners who are opening two restaurants in Amherst this winter are on the hook for nearly $500,000 in both restitution and penalties, related to child labor, sick time, wage and hour and payroll record violations at their Plymouth eateries, according to the state Attorney General’s office.

Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell announced in January the $476,351 in citations brought against Peter Lucido, 51, of Duxbury, and Paul Tupa, 45, of Pembroke, for violations that occurred at Tavern on the Wharf and Plymouth Public House. Payments are expected in the coming months.

The penalties were announced a few weeks after Lucido and Tupa successfully obtained transferred liquor licenses for the Amherst Public House at 40 University Drive, taking the place of Savannas Bar & Bistro, and Uptown Tap & Grille at 104 North Pleasant St. Amherst Public House opened this week, while Uptown Tap & Grille continues to prepare for opening, including having its signs examined by the Design Review Board on Monday.

“These restaurant owners engaged in a pattern of violating workplace protection laws that are designed to protect workers, especially our young workers,” Campbell said in a statement. “My office will continue to hold accountable those who violate our wage and hour laws.”

Madison Whittles, director of operations for the new Amherst restaurants, the Plymouth restaurants and other establishments in the Lucido and Tupa portfolio, wrote in an email that settlements were reached in the civil matters so that the matter could be put behind them.

“The matter involving the Tavern on the Wharf, the Plymouth Public House and the Attorney General’s office was a civil matter, and was not criminal in nature,” Whittles wrote. “Tavern on the Wharf and Plymouth Public House fully cooperated with the Attorney General’s office, and reached agreed-upon settlements in order to put this matter behind them. Tavern on the Wharf and Plymouth Public House are committed to doing right by their employees and ensuring that they are in full compliance with all laws, including but not limited to wage and hour laws.”

Plymouth Public House was cited $133,262 in restitution and penalties for failing to pay minimum wage and failure to make timely payments to employees, as well as multiple violations of the state’s child labor laws, violations of the state’s tips laws and failure to keep accurate payroll records.

Tavern on the Wharf was cited $343,089 in restitution and penalties for the same violations, along with failing to permit employees to earn and use sick time as required by law.

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The Attorney General’s office noted that Tupa previously had $80,000 in citations for wage and hour law violations when he was president of SNP Restaurant Group, which did business as Red Hat Cafe.

In the press release, Campbell’s office noted that it tries to protect young people in the workplace, also issuing citations totaling more than $1 million against several Dunkin’; franchisees for child labor violations.

In June 2023, Campbell convened a roundtable with representatives from the immigrant, education and business communities, to build public awareness surrounding workplace protections for migrant and other vulnerable children in Massachusetts and speak to the office’s ongoing efforts to thwart poor working conditions and exploitation of youth and vulnerable communities.

The state’s child labor laws impose certain requirements related to minors in the workplace, including limiting the hours those under 18 can work and the kinds of jobs that they can do. State law also requires employers to have Youth Employment Permits on file for all workers under 18, and minors generally must be supervised after 8 p.m.

This matter involving the Plymouth restaurants was handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Goyer and Supervising Investigator Jennifer Pak, both of the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.