In what may be one of the hastiest departures in Miami Beach chef history, Sean Bernal is no longer at Estiatiorio Milos, which just opened on May 8 in the SoFi ‘hood. The word got out after he posted a response to a comment on his Facebook page, saying “I’m not there anymore,” and “You have no idea what I’ve been through.” We kind of do. We’ve been hearing grumbling from inside that restaurant since before it opened about condescending management and staff trainers, among other things.
We contacted Bernal for his side of the story and have yet to hear back, but in the meantime he did comment on a Miami New Times blog post that “Unfortunately the events that transpired were not in my favor. I have nothing against Milos or its management as it was not the proper fit for me at the time, and I wish them success in Miami. ” A PR rep for the restaurant would only tell us, “You have to speak to Sean.” Somehow we don’t think he’s sitting around waiting to talk about this, so we’ll keep you posted. Ah, drama.
Update: We spoke with Bernal, who has no interest on commenting further. Staffers at Milos, however, have no issues with speaking out, albeit anonymously, and have contacted us with some of their stories from the inside. Because some of the allegations are pretty salacious, we did contact the restaurant for comment as well. So far, silence.
It’s been said that Bernal put up with a lot of “abuse” and eventually “reached his wit’s end of being spoken to disrespectfully in front of both the staff and guests.”
Among the chief complaints: that restaurant owner Costas Spiliadis brags about and threatens his staff with “public humiliation,” and, while “an inspiringly passionate character when it comes to the product of his restaurant,” another employee describes Spiliadis as a “pretty repugnant human being.” Yikes.
There’s also a ‘no sitting’ rule in which employees are forbidden to rest their feet even when the place is closed or servers are doing their set-up work. Other complaints include the fact that the waitstaff was only allowed to use the bathroom before dinner service and wasn’t allowed to drink water, a policy that was eventually changed for obvious reasons. Two workers allege that Spiliadis shoved a server.
In the meantime, replacing Bernal temporarily is Nikos, a chef from the restaurant’s Las Vegas location, and an executive sushi chef of the restaurant group who is handling the pre-shift announcement to front of the house from the kitchen.