State labor officials said Wednesday they recovered a record $2.3 million in back wages for more than 800 workers at nine restaurants including the popular Ollie's noodle shops.
The restaurants violated numerous labor laws including those dealing with minimum wage and overtime.
The recovery is the largest collection for a single wage-violation case in the state labor department's history, said spokesman Leo Rosales.
"These restaurants are known throughout the city for supplying Asian food for families at reasonable prices," Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith said in a statement.
"But as families enjoyed quality food at a price they could afford, workers toiled under the weight of below-minimum wages, late paychecks and lack of overtime payments."
The department identified the restaurant owner as Tsu Yue Wang,who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Besides two branches of Ollie's Noodle Shop & Grill, the other restaurants are called Ollie's; Ollie's Brasserie/Mainland; Japanese Restaurant; Chao Zhou Restaurant; and Central Kitchen.
Two others, Tomo and another Ollie's Noodle Shop & Grill outlet, have since gone out of business. Wang told labor officials he didn't own Tomo but state labor officials disagree and say he owes 100 Tomo workers more than $1 million.
The wages were recovered on behalf of cooks, deliverymen and women and waiters. Some were were owed as much as $30,000 and some are still employed at the restaurants, officials said.
The department said it would be conducting seminars for workers on their rights at each of the restaurants.
The case is the most recent example of the department's stepped up efforts to crack down on labor violations.
In December, the husband and wife owners of a group of popular Vietnamese restaurants in Manhattan were charged with cooking their books to hide the pay and hours of immigrant workers.