Fired executive chef sues restaurant owner

Ann Knef Oct. 10, 2006, 6:04am

An executive chef from St. Louis who set out to transform a family-style chicken dinner restaurant into a fine dining establishment is suing the owner of Farmer's Inn Restaurant for breach of contract.

Claiming an outstanding reputation within the fine dining community, John J. Litwicki is suing Steve Duebelbeis for firing him after only a couple of months on the job.

According to the suit filed Oct. 5 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Litwicki took a pay cut to work for Duelbelbeis because he was promised "a piece of the action."

Litwicki claims the restaurant, located between Millstadt and Columbia, opened May 15 after he helped with renovation, created a menu and hired and trained personnel.

"The restaurant was successful and heralded as a unique up-scale restaurant in a country setting," the complaint states.

But on July 5, Litwicki claims he was fired because Duelbelbeis said he could hire somebody else to do the same work for a lesser salary.

Litwicki's first year salary was $52,000, plus a $1,000 starting bonus, according to the suit.

"That when the plaintiff reminded the defendant about their arrangement and agreement, including the written agreement dated April 25, 2006, signed by both parties, the defendant told the plaintiff, 'you can take that piece of paper and shove it up your (expletive)," the complaint states.

Litwicki claims he has been employed at Seventh Inn Restaurant in Ballwin, Mo., Marnattis Classic Italian Restaurant in Shrewsbury, Mo., Cherry Hills Golf Club in Wildwood, Mo., various private country clubs, and the Roberts Mayfair Hotel in St. Louis.

Litwicki took a pay cut to work for Duelbelbeis because he had never before been offered an ownership interest as part of his employment package.

He is represented by Edward J. Blake of Blake & Allen in Belleville.

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