Monday, November 18, 2013

Carnegie Deli owner says waitress stole her hubby and recipes-NY Post

11/17/13, "Carnegie Deli owner: Waitress stole my hubby, recipes," NY Post, Isabel Vincent, Melissa Klein

Wood Allen sand.
"First she stole her man — then she took the cheesecake recipe! the entire pastrami empire was at risk.

Levine, 63, said her cheating husband, 71-year-old Sanford “Sandy” Levine, was serving up the family’s most valuable assets to his waitress paramour: secret recipes for the deli’s signature pastrami, corned beef and cheesecake.

“They’re stealing my food!” the furious woman told The Post.

Thai waitress
Now the Levines are locked in a legal battle, with one lawsuit filed and more to come. Marian says she also wants a divorce from her husband of 22 years, a man she trusted with her family business and personal finances and never imagined capable of such a double-cross.

“I always trusted him, my Sandy,” Marian said. “Total trust. That’s why it got this far.”

Marian wasn’t always treated like chopped liver. She met Sandy in a chance encounter in the summer of 1989. Marian, a divorced mother with a 9-year-old daughter, had a summer share every other weekend in the Hamptons. She met Levine, a divorced father and Garment District salesman, at an East Hampton hot spot. “We hit it off right away,” she said.

She said the couple never fought and that she was so in love, she even got a vanity license plate that read “MENT 2 BE” because “that’s how I felt it was.”

The pair married in 1991 and two years later he left his Garment District job to work at the Carnegie Deli, the Seventh Avenue emporium of overstuffed sandwiches that dates to 1937. Marian Levine’s father, Milton Parker, bought the business with a partner in 1976.

Her husband was installed under her father’s tutelage. Marian said her outgoing husband was a natural as a “front-of-the-house man” and eventually took over the day-to-day operations of the deli as well as the small apartment building it was located in, while she worked on and off at the deli as she raised her daughter.

After Parker retired from the deli, Sandy Levine became its public face. He handed out business cards that read “MBD — Married Boss’s Daughter” and some of the celebrity photos that line the restaurant’s walls are inscribed to him.

Siricharoen, 61, a Thai immigrant known as Kay, was among the deli’s longtime staff. She had been hired years earlier as a waitress by Parker and was considered so loyal that Parker rented her an apartment upstairs to “be the eyes and ears” of the operation, Marian said.

Siricharoen was quite friendly with the Levines. The waitress joined them on a Thailand vacation and Marian even invited her to her Hamptons summer home.

She saw my house in the Hamptons. She saw how I lived. She wanted to be Mrs. Levine,” Marian Levine said.

She claims Siricharoen even copied her style of dress and her hair color. About five years ago, Siricharoen had the chutzpah to start wearing a Star of David around her neck, Marian said. But she wasn’t suspicious, even after the waitress began to wear a small diamond ring bought for her by Sandy Levine. Marian said she naively asked, “Kay, how could you meet anybody if you’re wearing an engagement ring?”

In 2008, Siricharoen opened her own restaurant — Leng Thai in Astoria, Queens. The Levines went to the opening and Marian was startled by what she saw. “The place was magnificent — all colored glass, teapots,” she said. “And she’s a waitress, OK?” But Marian thought Siricharoen had simply saved up her own money to open the eatery.

In 2005, Siricharoen also managed to buy a $600,000 house in Astoria.

Alarm bells did not go off for Marian until 2012, when her husband started pushing her to sell the business. That’s when she became suspicious of his handling of their personal finances and hired a private detective, she said.

The investigator quickly found out that the affair between Sandy and Kay was an open secret among the deli’s workers.

Her husband even showed off the Tiffany’s bag from his purchase of Siricharoen’s ring.

“Everybody knew about this open secret but moi,” Marian said, adding that she believes the affair was going on for a decade. “Everybody knew but me.” At the time, she said, her husband “was still calling me honey.”

Other secrets spilled out. In 2008, Sandy Levine arranged a tour for Siricharoen and visiting relatives from Thailand of Carnegie Deli’s New Jersey plant — where the company cured its meats and baked its cheesecakes.

Armed with what Levine said were “trade secrets,” the visiting delegation went back home and opened a restaurant called Carnegie Deli Thailand in Bangkok, later changing the name to New York Cheese Cake.

A 2010 blog post described the restaurant’s overstuffed pastrami sandwich saying, “It is ENORMOUS. There is no way to eat the thing with your hands like a normal sandwich.” The cheesecake was described as “thick, rich, dense and creamy. All the great attributes of a New York cheesecake. I see why the Thais are all in love with NYCC cheesecake.”

Marian never knew there was a doppelganger deli across the globe.

Then, in December 2012, she learned from an anonymous caller that food was also being spirited out of Carnegie Deli. Marian said she got a voicemail message telling her that “Kay and some others have been taking out merchandise from your restaurant and sending it to Thailand. The last order they took out was about $5,000 worth of merchandise for which there is no invoice.”

And she learned employees kept Siricharoen on the Carnegie Deli payroll long after she quit the restaurant in 2008.

“Somebody punched her in,” she said. “She was making $750 a week as a manager even though she wasn’t there.”

Siricharoen had another sweetheart deal. On Valentine’s Day 2011, Sandy Levine inked a deal with Siricharoen, giving her a 15-year lease at $975 a month on her apartment above the deli. Such a long lease was not allowed because the apartment was rent-stabilized and Siricharoen already had her home in Queens, which according to city tax records was her primary residence.

Marian filed suit last month seeking to void the lease. It is unclear if Siricharoen still uses the apartment, since she stays with Sandy Levine at a $1 million condo owned by his daughter in Boca Raton, Fla.

Whether Siricharoen should even be in the US is also unclear. After overstaying her visa decades ago, she returned to Thailand and used her dead sister’s identification documents to get a new Thai passport in order to re-enter the US, the lawsuit alleges.

Marian now believes that her husband paid for his lover to open her Queens restaurant, made the mortgage payments on her home and even footed the bill for plastic surgery on her eyes and nose as well as getting her teeth fixed.

She says her fairy-tale marriage soured in later years, but that she stayed with Sandy because he was in charge of her beloved family business....

In December 2012, after Marian found out about the affair, Sandy Levine quit the deli business and shortly afterward moved out of his home. She tossed her “MENT 2 BE” license plate.

Marian Levine is now running things, her way, free from a spouse who did not take her seriously."... image of sandwich Robert Miller, image of couple, Coughlin

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