Manhattanjack, the hip Prytania Street bakery and coffee shop from co-owners Jack Petronella and Coleman Jernigan, closed suddenly last week, leaving behind a trail of confusion with signs alternately saying it was “closed Monday,” “closed until further notice,” and closed due to “a change in city code.” The closure closely followed the shutter of Petronella’s other restaurant, Altamura, the American Italian restaurant in the Magnolia Mansion. Now the owners have split and Petronella is facing allegations from former employees and investors of mismanagement. Plans from co-owner Coleman Jernigan to reopen Manhattanjack have fallen apart, reports Ian McNulty of the Advocate.
Several Manhattanjack and Altamura employees report that their final paychecks bounced and that they still have not been paid. Natalie Collins, a former front-of-the-house employee at Manhattanjack, told Eater that she left her job in July. Her final paycheck was issued on July 20 and bounced. She was told that she would receive cash instead. After repeated texts to the owners, she was “put off” so many times that she doesn’t believe she’ll ever be paid. McNulty reports that he also heard from several employees in the same situation. Another employee
Altamura investor McKenzie Lovelace considered re-opening Altamura with Jernigan. “We wanted to open with new ownership and hopefully save the jobs of the employees here, but when we got into the books we found too many problems to keep it a viable business. We found that the business wasn’t being run properly. There were draws from its cash flow by the managing partner [Jack Petronella] to pay for personal bills and expenses,” she said in the Advocate report.
Collins confirmed that the same cash drawer withdrawals occurred at Manhattanjack while she worked there. “I would see them both do it from time to time. It was sometimes stressful when a customer came in and we had to make change and most of the drawer was gone.”
Petronella says he was not paid at Manhattanjack and recorded any money he drew, even having an accountant review it. He blames the closure on the cost of running Altamura and Magnolia Mansion, saying in the Advocate report that it “bled [both businesses] dry.” He also said said that Jernigan was in charge of the finances. McNulty points out that the two restaurants had different partners and different investors.
Petronella says he’s trying to start a new business to pay back his former employees.