How Sarma's Ex-Employees Really Feel About Bad Vegan

Netflix struck television gold with their new docuseries "Bad Vegan: Fame Fraud. Fugitives." According to The Guardian, the series follows Sarma Melngailis, a restaurateur who led the raw food movement of the early 2000s. Melngailis eventually fell in with a man named Anthony Strangis who convinced her that he had the power "to make her and her beloved pit bull, Leon, immortal" in exchange for money and emotional degradation. Through the couple's relationship, Melngailis ended up defrauding employees and investors. She ultimately ended up closing her restaurant after failing to pay her employees, per Uproxx.

You could imagine that these employees were less than pleased about the situation. People reports that Melngailis' employees felt utterly betrayed. "There were over 100 employees there and before they lost their jobs, they didn't get paid," Melngailis' former operations manager said. "And I didn't think that Sarma really showed any empathy for that."

"One thing that was a surprise for me was finding out that Michael Cordelano, who Sarma introduced me to as an investor, was actually Anthony," Nikkie Bennett, former executive chef of Melngailis' restaurant said. Other employees noted that Melngailis kept them in the dark about operations until it was too late, and by then, the business faced economic collapse. While the employees felt betrayed by Melngailis, the whole picture looks a lot more nuanced, especially after the restaurant closed down and the docuseries aired on Netflix.

The other side of Melngailis' employees

While many employees couldn't believe that Melngailis had the nerve to stop paying them, they didn't hold a grudge against her either. According to People, many of the employees still liked working under Melngailis. The former restaurant manager Bonnie Crocker said, "I still look back with fond memories of how much she championed me. I look back and I'm blown away by how cool were the people that worked there." Others reminisced about the good times had at the restaurant, and the tragic end of the business didn't put a damper on the fun. One former employee even compared the end of the business to "a death," saying, "We all have our good memories, but we'll never have those garden nights again," said Crocker. "It feels like a death in a way."

The culinary personality also tried to amend some of her past mistakes with the money she made from the show. Parade reports that Melngailis used her "Bad Vegan" money to pay back her former employees. Melngailis had carried a ton of guilt over the years over her former actions and specifically asked the documentary makers to use the money from the show to help pay off her former debts. She ended up paying the employees back via her lawyer and stated that she promises to do better, saying, "I want to be clear that I'll keep working towards addressing it all — one way or another — eventually."