BEVERLY HILLS—Turkish social media star and chef Nusret Gökçe, “Salt Bae,” will open a new steakhouse next door to Spago, and will expand his global Nusr-Et restaurant chain. Gökçe is developing this project despite the pandemic and previous lawsuits that accused him of wage theft at other branches.

license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was reported on Monday, August 3, 2020 for the upcoming Beverly Hills location. Its status is active with an original issue date of July 16. An official opening date and further information about the new steakhouse has not been announced.

The place will take over Citizen restaurant’s former location at 184 North Canon Drive. Citizen closed its doors in January 2019 after about two years of being there. Gökçe previously had plans to create an eatery in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles, but it did not go through.

According to a case document, dated January 15, 2019, Nusr-Et steakhouse allegedly violated the New York Labor Law and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay minimum wage, and overtime to its employees at the New York branch. Gökçe’s business was also accused of unlawfully keeping tips, failing to provide the Notice and Acknowledgement of Pay rate and Payday, and failing to provide an accurate wage statement under N.Y. Lab. Law. The document states that a jury trial was demanded.

Mustafa Fteja sued Gökçe, and was a former waiter at Nusr-Et in New York from January 18, 2018 until he was fired on or around December 6, 2018.

“Between August and November, Defendants [Nusr-Et] have systematically fired each waiter who complained about not getting paid tips. On November 22, 2018, Defendants suspended Plaintiff Fteja and then fired him on December 6, 2018. No legitimate, non-retaliatory reason exists for Defendants suspending and firing him; Defendants suspended and fired Plaintiff Fteja for complaining about Defendants keeping some of his tips,” the document reads.

In another similar lawsuit from 2019, Melissa Compere was an hourly, tipped employee at Nusr-Et’s Miami location from September 2017 through November 2018. According to the case document, Compere filed a Collective Action Complaint against Gökçe for unpaid minimum wage compensation, unpaid overtime wage compensation, liquidated damages, return of tips wrongfully taken, other relief under the FLSA and a declaration of rights.

The restaurateur became famous for his salt-sprinkling technique and meat culinary skills through Instagram in early 2017 and now has 29.3 million followers. Nusr-Et steakhouse was founded in 2010 with locations spread internationally over time such as in Dubai, Istanbul, Miami, and New York.