Wealthy ‘Tiger King’ Director Called Out by Staffers Laid Off From His Restaurant

“You’re someone that has the financial resources to make a difference,” former employee describes ex-boss Eric Goode to Buzzfeed News

Last Updated: April 16, 2020 @ 7:50 AM

“Tiger King” director Eric Goode owns several New York hotels and restaurants that have all had to shut their doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, putting many of his employees out of work. Now, some of them are asking for his help.

Goode, who directed and executive produced Netflix’s smash-hit docuseries “Tiger King” along with Rebecca Chaiklin, owns the Bowery Hotel,  the Jane Hotel, the Waverly Inn, and a number of restaurants including one well-established NoHo eatery called B Bar and Grill.

Buzzfeed News conducted interviews with some of Goode’s former B Bar staffers who were laid off from the restaurant when the pandemic hit. Many say that they have pleaded with Goode to help those who have fallen on hard times, but that their requests seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

“You’re the director of Tiger King and you own the Jane Hotel and you’re not a small mom-and-pop shop that’s struggling. You’re someone that has the financial resources to make a difference,” Luis Lugo, a former floor manager at B Bar, said in an interview with Buzzfeed.

Lugo is among roughly 70 cooks and waiters who were laid off, some of whom, like himself, are undocumented and do not have access to the stimulus check or government unemployment.

“To have been profitable for so many years on the back of these people and not even say, ‘Hey, guys, here’s a couple thousand dollars’ seemed really unfair to me,” Lugo said.

Reps for Goode did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Thursday.

Lugo wrote a letter to Goode on behalf of the staff of B Bar on March 23, about a week after the restaurant shut its doors, requesting two weeks of paid time off for employees, he told Buzzfeed. Goode responded three days later by sending staff formal letters of termination.

Several other restaurant and hospitality groups in New York have committed to helping employees during this time. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group donated his entire salary and started a non-profit to help his 2,000 plus laid-off staff members. Other restaurants have banded together to form ROAR, or Relief Opportunity for All Restaurants, which is raising money to help laid-off workers.

“I’m really worried about a lot of the cooks and the back of house staff. Some of the servers, too, have families and they have no income coming in and they have no checks coming in after the layoffs,” said an anonymous former B Bar server interviewed by Buzzfeed. “And here Eric Goode is the number one trending thing in the country. It just doesn’t feel right given the nature of everything that’s been going on. I would have expected him to at least pay those employees two weeks of paid time off.”

“Tiger King” debuted on Netflix March 20 and been the No. 1 show on the streaming platform for the last few weeks.