Where is Sarma Melngailis Now? Pure Food and Wine was a high-end raw vegan restaurant that first debuted in 2004 and immediately became a hotspot for celebrities. The restaurant’s co-founder, Sarma Melngailis, was already well-known in the culinary world at the time.
The restaurant, as well as some of Sarma’s other businesses, were faltering by 2015, and Sarma looked to be out of the country. The Netflix documentary ‘Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.’ digs into what happened at that period and how she wound up on the run from the law. So, how about we try to figure out where she is today?
Sarma Melngailis Now: What Happened to Sarma Melngailis?
Where is Sarma Melngailis Now? Sarma grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, and graduated from the Wharton School in Philadelphia with a bachelor’s degree in economics. After working in a handful of investment firms, she chose to pursue her ambition of working in the food industry. Sarma actively graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York in 1999 with a certificate. Pure Food and Wine, which she co-founded with Matthew Kenney, a famed chef and her then-boyfriend, launched in Manhattan, New York, in 2004.
In 2005, Matthew stepped down as the restaurant’s manager, putting Sarma in control. According to the episode, Matthew sold his part of Pure Food and Wine to Sarma. The restaurant succeeded over the next few years, and she went on to launch One Lucky Duck, a particular raw vegan juice bar and takeaway in New York City. Employees launched a walkout since they hadn’t been paid since December 26, 2014, and the restaurant was forced to close in early 2015.
At the time, Sarma was traveling in Europe rather than the United States. Employees were bewildered as to why she wasn’t present at the time; Sarma’s explanation that it was due to a bank switch was the only explanation they heard for the lack of pay. “What a lot of people don’t realize, and even the staff don’t realize,” she said in a February 2015 interview, “is that the restaurant has a really complex past and has had an amazing amount of debt on the books from day one.” People automatically believe I live in a large apartment when they see a lively restaurant…which is entirely wrong. In order to make payroll, there have been times when I have not paid my own rent.”
Sarma said she was looking into ideas to enhance the budget when her colleagues walked out. After meeting him on Twitter a few months before, she married Anthony Strangis in December 2012. Sarma and Anthony were captured in Sevierville, Tennessee, in May 2016, after nearly a year on the run, thanks to a bizarre set of circumstances. When the story broke, many of those who had been following the case closely was taken aback.
Sarma is suspected of transferring $1.6 million from the corporation to her personal bank account, with Anthony spending more than $1 million of it at Connecticut casinos. Apart from that, the couple spent $80,000 on high-end watches, $70,000 on European vacations and owed $40,000 to employees. According to the prosecution, Sarma was accused of deceiving investors and failing to pay taxes.
Anthony had Sarma under his control and forced her to do things, according to Sarma’s defense. In prior texts between the two, Sarma accused Anthony of raping her and referred to him as a manipulative liar. He stated that the money she continued to pay him as part of a research project he was working on. If Sarma died, her debt would be forgiven, and she and her companion dog, Leon, would be immortal. The defense said that Anthony was abusive to Sarma and that he was under his control.
Many people were perplexed as to how Sarma could be so easily fooled, but her defense said she was “depressed and untrusting of her own inner truth.” In May 2017, Sarma pleaded guilty to grand larceny, tax fraud, and conspiracy to deceive. She was sentenced to a four-month prison sentence followed by a five-year probation period when she was 44 years old. Sarma was freed from Rikers Island Prison in New York on October 6, 2017. She filed for divorce from Anthony in May 2018.
Where is Sarma Melngailis Today?
Where is Sarma Melngailis Now? Despite the circumstances, Sarma remained hopeful about restarting her restaurant and making apologies to her former employees and investors. Since her release, Sarma has remained in New York City, sharing a home with her dog, Leon, and a friend. She is very active on social media, uploading pictures of Leon on a regular basis. As of February 2022, Sarma was also working on a podcast, though it was unclear when it would be released.
After Sarma’s release, She was open about her mistakes and experiences. Despite the first rush of elation and relief, she talked of dealing with a whirlwind of other emotions after her release. “I’m ashamed and still a little perplexed,” Sarma said, “as well as unhappy, outraged, and more.” The debts I’m responsible for are ridiculously big.” Sarma also plans to write a book on what happened in order to help others. In a 2019 interview, she mentioned leaving New York City to focus on her memoir.
Sarma went into considerable detail about her guilt and how she feared she had inadvertently damaged people after her release. For now, the former restaurateur is concentrating on rebuilding her life and paying off her debts. While in prison, Sarma received various messages from supporters and well-wishers, as well as books to read. As evidenced by her social media, she has remained a voracious reader since her release.