Arts District Staple Church & State Files For Bankruptcy

Church & State, the nine-year-old French restaurant in the old Nabisco building in the Arts District, has entered chapter 11 bankruptcy. Eater reports the filing came from a years-long legal battle with a former employee over alleged unpaid wages. Owner Yassmin Sarmadi has filed for bankruptcy in order to restructure their finances as the lawsuit continues.

The original lawsuit had claimed unpaid wages for time worked; the restaurant tried to settle for $150,000. The former employee instead asked for a $1 million settlement and may later turn the lawsuit into a class action filing. In a comment to Eater LA, Sarmadi explained how, "[w]hen the cost of the litigation—in both time and money—started to negatively impact the business, we decided to file for bankruptcy to reorganize our finances."

The restaurant will remain open for the time being. Sarmadi and co-owner/chef Tony Esnault will attend an emergency hearing this week in order to outline how the restaurant will pay the ensuing fees while maintaining prompt payment for its staff.

Now a familiar face in the Arts District, Church & State had lacked a strong voice until Esnault came in to reformat it into a traditionally French restaurant, rather than the nouveau California-French place it once was. Sarmadi and Esnault also own Spring downtown. The restaurant originally had Walter Manzke as chef before he moved on to start République.