Scottsdale, Ariz. (AZ Central) -- The co-owner of Amy's Baking Company - aScottsdale restaurant that has been the center of controversy ever sinceappearing on the culinary reality TV show "Kitchen Nightmares" 11 daysago - is facing deportation.
Salomon "Samy" Bouzaglo, who owns Amy's Baking Companyalong with his wife, Amy, is involved in a U.S. Immigration and CustomsEnforcement case to revoke his residency status, his lawyer saidTuesday. Scottsdale immigration lawyer David Asser said the case againsthis client started two years ago and was the subject of a removalhearing Monday.
Asser, speaking just hours before the Bouzaglos reopenedtheir embattled restaurant, said he could not comment on the case. Healso said Samy's immigration case has nothing to do with the televisionshow. In fact, Asser said, he has not even watched the episode that hasearned his client celebrity status.
"I didn't know they were going to go on (the show)," he said.
Amy's closed in the wake of the "Kitchen Nightmares"episode, which aired on Fox on May 10 and showed the owners yelling andpushing customers, taking servers' tips and firing one waitress on thespot, calling her a "poisonous, little viper." People across the countrytook to Yelp, Facebook, Reddit and other websites to express theirdisgust with the Bouzaglos' actions after the show.
The Bouzaglos hope to turn around their business with aweeklong grand reopening that began uneventfully Tuesday. Therestaurateurs said that they had more than 1,500 reservations for Amy'sthis week and announced plans to donate 10 percent of the grand-openingproceeds to the Megan Meier Foundation, which raises awareness ofcyberbullying.
On Tuesday, Amy's opened to a thin crowd and began servingthose holding reservations at 5 p.m., using security guards to preventgawkers, media and others without reservations from entering. Therestaurant had a sign saying its patio was closed for security reasons.
The reopening appeared to be running without incident for the first waveof diners. Some onlookers showed up hoping to snag a reservation, butmost were turned away. The nearby Pita Jungle restaurant appeared to bedrawing more business than Amy's.
Laurie Ferrere Vermillion, a Scottsdale blogger, was amongthe handful of people turned away in the restaurant's first hourbecause she had no reservation. Vermillion had hoped to dine at therestaurant Tuesday, despite discouraging reviews from her friends.
"My friends who have been (to Amy's) said, 'Don't wasteyour money,'" said Vermillion, who has seen every episode of "KitchenNightmares" and was shocked by the show featuring the Scottsdalerestaurant.
Leon Lucero, 19, said he was curious about Amy's and was hoping to get a reservation at the restaurant Tuesday night.
"Maybe this is a new start for them, a new beginning,"said Lucero, a music major at Glendale Community College who said heexpects food at the restaurant to have improved.
Annie Dutoit, 42, who was at a nearby coffee shop, saidshe had dined at Amy's with her family five or six times in the past 18months and generally had good experiences.
She said she was surprised at the way Amy and Samy were portrayed on "Kitchen Nightmares."
"I don't know if the editing was done to show horrible things," Dutoit said.
A native of Switzerland, she said she has dined all overthe world and considered Amy's a decent restaurant. Amy did specialorders for her children, making crepes for them, Dutoit said.
She said she was surprised to hear on the show that theservers did not get their tips and would not want to support arestaurant that did that.
"I would go back, but I want to know what the truth is"about Amy's, said Dutoit, adding that she is not sure what to believeabout what was shown on a reality TV show.
Tuesday's reopening capped a tumultuous week for the owners of Amy's.
The couple was supposed to hold a press conference Tuesdayat the restaurant to give their side of the story about what happenedon the "Kitchen Nightmares," suggesting the broadcast was not anaccurate depiction of their restaurant. The press conference wasabruptly canceled on Monday.
A Scottsdale public-relations firm headed by Jason Roseexplained in a news release that a law firm representing the producersof "Kitchen Nightmares" warned the Bouzaglos against making disparagingremarks about the show or its star, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Rose'sfirm announced on Monday that it no longer would be representing theBouzaglos.
On Tuesday, Samy and Amy talked about their past recordsand indicated Samy had served time in prison before immigrating to theUnited States 13 years ago. Reached by phone as they drove to theirrestaurant Tuesday morning, Amy and Samy each tried to talk over theother -- interrupting, yelling and even cursing one another as theconversation continued.
"We both made mistakes in the past. We have done our time," Amy said. "We can't comment. We know God is with us."
Samy said he could not talk about any past records but added he has not had any problems since immigrating to the U.S.
"The FBI knows all about me.... The IRS knows," he said.
Samy said issues surrounding his immigration status were "a sensitive subject" that he did not want to talk about Tuesday.
But he indicated that he wanted people to know that he had nothing to hide.
"I want people to know about me," he said. "But not today, not tomorrow. I have nothing to hide."
Asser, the lawyer, said Samy is an Israeli citizen and was born in Morocco.
Amy, 40, and Samy, 63, live in Gold Canyon. Before comingto Arizona, they lived in Las Vegas. Amy also lived in Colorado andCalifornia.
Records show Amy has served time in federal prison and has a history of liens and judgments.
In 2003, Amy Bouzaglo pleaded guilty to misuse of a SocialSecurity number when she applied for a $15,000 bank loan. At the time,her name was Amanda Bossingham. She spent about a year in prisonbeginning in 2008.
Records show that prior to her conviction, Amy faced fourjudgments in Colorado in 1998 and 1999 totaling about $14,000. She wasalso sued in Arizona in 2000 for $3,229. The judgments appear to havearisen from unpaid debts that were turned over to collection agencies.
She married Samy in 2004. Records show he is from LosAngeles, where he lived upon arriving in the United States. Recordsindicate he has no criminal convictions or civil judgments in the UnitedStates.
"I am perfectly clean," he said.