A fighter from Somerville’s Breakfast Wars is in the spotlight again

A fighter from Somerville's Breakfast Wars is in the spotlight again

Things are always very interesting at the Sound Bites Cafe, that’s for sure.

Screenshot via Google Street View

Accusations, recriminations, hash browns and trouble on Breakfast Boulevard: such is life, once again, at one of the city’s most notoriously acrimonious brunches.

The popular Sound Bites Cafe recently made headlines amid reports that owner Yasser Mirza illegally threatened an employee, and more. The allegations, which he denies (and which a judge has criticized for lacking evidence), are as intense as they are bizarre.

The story, as described in UniversalHub this week was that a Mirza employee named Fabian Zuleta accused him of withholding overtime pay for several years, prompting a US Department of Labor investigation, and angering Mirza. . According to a lawsuit, the federal government filed Friday seeking a restraining order, Mirza allegedly retaliated against the employee, going so far as threatening to have him murdered. The lawsuit, as reported by UniversalHub, alleges that Mirza told the Zuleta that he “had a relative who was a ‘killer’ and suggested that it was possible to pay people to hurt or kill family members of Zuleta”. The lawsuit goes on from there to say that Zuleta began receiving mysterious phone calls from people identifying themselves as police officers urging him to “get off the case.”

In court, Mirza’s attorney, Brian Rogal, questioned the salacious story, said none of it was true, and argued there was no supporting evidence. A judge denied restraining order request Monday, and a new hearing is set for May 24.

In a phone interview, Rogal said Mirza felt blindsided by the accusations. “Tthere is simply no basis for any of these allegations, and there has been no retaliation,” Rogal says. “The Department of Labor made a bunch of allegations on a Friday afternoon without any supporting evidence. Sound Bites is a small restaurant, and they shouldn’t have to defend against that especially as we’ve been cooperating with investigators from the start.

If the name of the popular brunch spot or its owner sounds familiar, and not just because you’ve enjoyed a delicious helping of hash browns or Jimmy’s Moroccan Eggs over the years, maybe it’s because Sound Bites Cafe is part of the vicious rivalry. at Somerville’s Ball Square, known to locals as Breakfast Wars.

As a reminder, we reported in depth in 2016 on the bitter feud between Sound Bites and neighboring Ball Square Cafe, whose tense clash dates back to 2007 when Mirza moved his restaurant next door, angering the former owner Mike Moccia, who chose to open a breakfast joint on his own.

What followed was a feud so caustic (and depending on your taste in that sort of thing, entertaining) that it garnered local and national media attention, including a Travel Channel TV show. At times, things turned sour, such as when the two men fought outside the restaurant, in a fight that sent Mirza to the hospital. The feud also involved more non-violent acts of sabotage and subterfuge, with both sides allegedly deploying tactics such as irritating car alarms, malicious calls to health inspectors and parking attendants, and accusations of corruption publicly aired all the way to City Hall.

This latest skirmish doesn’t involve Mirza’s neighbor, but it’s the final chapter in a culinary corner of town that has long exceeded its weight in intrigue.

So what exactly is going on at present? Guess we’ll have to wait for the court to settle this.

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