Noosh Closed: Legal dispute shutters popular San Francisco restaurant unexpectedly

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A dispute and lawsuit has resulted in the closure of popular Noosh restaurant in San Francisco for now, leaving employees unsure about their future.

Dozens of employees rallied together along Filmore Street on Friday, looking for answers and their paychecks. This just one day after finding a sign posted on the restaurant's door indicating the Noosh was closed and a new culinary adviser had been appointed.

Frequent customers were concerned as well. Neighbor Gil Bar-or who lives across the street said: "there's a line down across, like to the end of the block every day, basically."

ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim has attended functions at Noosh and been a customer and says the restaurant is often busy with a wait, especially on weekends.

Former executive chefs, husband and wife team Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz were greeted by the employees with cheers and applause as they addressed their former team. The couple then explained they had been unexpectedly terminated and were dealing with a lawsuit, filed from Noosh's co-founder and CEO John Litz.

Employee Grachik Petrosian showed his support for the Ozyilmazs. "Limiting them from the restaurant is absolutely ridiculous."

"We are all in the dark, we don't know what's going on." Lamented another employee.

The 25-page lawsuit filed by John Litz cites breach of contract and fraud. Sam Singer- Litz's spokesperson spoke to ABC7 News via FaceTime.

"You can be a very good chef but that doesn't mean you're a very good person." Said Litz. He also added, "...these two people turned out to be not good reliable honest employees."

Laura and Sayat deny all the allegations. "None of it is true-all of the accusations. I haven't even had time to read all of them because they are ridiculous." Said Laura, surrounded by kitchen staff showing their solidarity.

Singer says the restaurant will re-open Saturday and all the employees will be paid. The employees, however, don't know if they'll come back.

"Right now it's not about money, it's about justice and supporting Sayat and Laura," said one employee while another nodded in agreement saying he didn't want to work for Litz.

This didn't seem to bother Singer who is confident the restaurant will be up and running again on Saturday.

"We're quite hopeful people are going to come back to work. But if they don't come to work we'll find other folks and we're moving ahead." Continued Singer.

Moving ahead. Something the Ozyilmazs say they'll do too...but where and when has yet to be determined.

"We're not going to give up. This is our idea and this is what we want to give the world and bringing people together is our greatest passion. It's what we're always going to do." Said Sayat with tears welling up in his eyes.

A fan of the restaurant has set up a GoFundMe page to help with the Ozyilmaz's legal fees.
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