Sunday, April 21, 2024

Harvard Square’s Upper Crust pizza shop is likely to reopen with a new name. (Photo: Sarah Betancourt)

The lease and assets of the Upper Crust pizza shop in Harvard Square were bought at auction Wednesday by attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and partner Haluk Ozek, owner of the nearby Monella Boutique clothing store.

She plans to give ownership shares to the former employees, whom she was representing in a class action against the pizza shop owners, and possibly rename it “The Just Crust,” The Boston Globe said.

The new owners can’t reopen as an Upper Crust because founder Jordan Tobins kept the brand and recipes, WBUR said.

A private equity firm linked to Tobins bought four shops, in Lexington, Watertown, the South End and Wellesley. Boston Restaurant Associates, owner if Pizzeria Regina, bought the Fenway location. The Boston Business Journal said the sites in Boston’s Financial District and Washington, D.C. went to the buildings’ owners and one in Hingham sold to a Plymouth franchisee.

Upper Crust’s problems began in 2009, when a U.S. Department of Labor investigation resulted in the company being ordered to pay workers $342,000 in back wages. In a July 2010 class action, several employees said they were forced by company executives to give back the federally mandated payments or lose their jobs.

Liss-Riordan represented 121 workers in the class action in as they sued Upper Crust for violations of wage laws.

“Many of the workers were working 70 hour weeks, making below minimum wage because of the extortion, with no overtime,” Liss-Riordan said, who estimated damages to the former Upper Crust workers at more than $2 million.