Big E parts ways with Viva Brazil, threatens legal action [UPDATED]

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Eric Austin via Facebook
Big E. posing at Viva Brazil.
Drama continues to follow chef Eric Austin, better known as Big E.

A few months ago, he partnered with the owners of a forthcoming Brazilian restaurant in Uptown, supposedly set to open this week. But today, Austin announced that he's no longer involved with Viva Brazil, and doesn't sound too happy about the situation...

This morning, Austin posted the following message on his Facebook page:

AFTER PUTTING MY ENERGY, SWEAT AND CREATIVE HEART INTO THE DEVELOPING AND OPENING OF VIVA BRAZIL RESTAURANT, I REGRETTABLY INFORM MY FB FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS THAT MY FAMILY AND I CAN NO LONGER SUPPORT ANY ENDEAVOR MADE BY THIS RESTAURANT AS THEY HAVE WITH BLATANT DISREGARD FOR OUR CONTRACT, SOUGHT TO REMOVE ME AS CHEF. IT WAS MY WISH TO BRING TO THE CITY OF MPLS A UNIQUE DINING EXPERIENCE SHOWCASING THE WORLD OF BRAZILIAN CUISINE BROUGHT TO YOU AS ONLY YOURS TRULY COULD, AND NOW AM LEFT TO DEAL WITH THIS EGREGIOUS ACT OF PIRACY. I CANNOT VOUCHE [SIC] FOR ANY FOOD EXPERIENCE YOU RECIEVE [SIC] SHOULD YOU VISIT AND WISH TO CLEAR MY NAME OF THE ESTABLISHMENT AS I GO FORWARD WITH LEGAL ACTION AGAINST VIVA BRAZIL RESTAURANT. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT THUS FAR, YOURS TRULY, CHEF ERIC (BIG E) AUSTIN

This isn't the first time that Austin, who made his name by opening the former Big E.'s Soul at 18th and Nicollet, has had disputes with his business partners. After shuttering Big E.'s, in part due to such troubles, Austin left Bourbon Street Steakhouse under similarly abrupt circumstances.

Calls placed to two phone numbers associated with Viva Brazil were disconnected or unanswered so the owners have not yet reached for comment.

** The Southwest Journal has further updates on the situation and manages to work in the word "intransigence".


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10 comments
Joelspizman
Joelspizman

The owners are crooks,he's not the only staff to not get paid.bounced a pay check of a friend.bad management,

Emmy
Emmy

I am forever torn between a fanatical love for Eric Austin's culinary talent and a cynical disdain for the drama that precedes and follows the man everywhere he goes.  Can the misfortune of injustice strike a person three times?  I suppose it's possible, but let's not ignore the fact that the common denominator here is Big E.  Our chances in life depend a great deal on our choices in life.  And I sure hope he starts making good ones, because dammit, I want some fried chicken.

tim
tim

How long was Big E's in existence? What is the longest time Eric has ever held a job? It always seems to be the everyone else's fault, Eric is so misunderstood. Awwww poor Eric.  

/
/

Rachel-I have first-hand, verifyable information and would love to send you an email.  How do I get it?

Honestly
Honestly

I have to agree with MichaelMattson: when you're in a similar situation three consecutive times there must be something wrong in how you're doing things as well. I hope he has a real, experienced lawyer look over and/or draft any future business agreements he enters. I initially wanted to make a joke about the all-caps writing, but I remembered I liked his cooking a lot and I hope he eventually finds a good partner and pays for the legal legwork to ensure he doesn't get in this situation again.

jiayou
jiayou

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Mgcolin
Mgcolin

This guy is such a good chef, and seemed a really good guy when i used to eat at big E's on nicollet.  I just wish i could get the plates from him i used to get hen, ribs, chicken, stuffing, sweet potatoes...Man please just get a drama-free gig!

Michael Mattson
Michael Mattson

I do not know Big E personally, but I ate at his Nicollet location a couple of times and was impressed (it was early in the run).

However, when someone continually has problems like this, it leaves one to consider the only possibilities:

Eric Austin is absolutely god-awful terrible at choosing business partnersorEric Austin is an absolutely god-awful terrible prima donna.

I'm not leaning either way here because I don't have enough info, but I have to believe these are, FAR AND AWAY, the two most likely explanations.

Pete
Pete

I wish I could sue them too for robbing me of the food art of my man Big E. And Rachel, this kind of ownership thuggery is common - Eric has been victimized. Again. Which sucks for him and us.

Dave
Dave

Bummer central!  I was so looking forward to eating Big E food again!

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