Netflix’s ‘Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.’ is a four-part docuseries that delves into Sarma Melngailis’ rise in the restaurant world as well as her arrest and conviction for fraud. But before that, she co-founded Pure Food and Wine, a raw food vegan restaurant that was extremely popular, with Jeffrey Chodorow as the owner. Jeffrey is well known in the restaurant circuit and has been an investor in many eateries. So, if you’re wondering how Jeffrey began his career and built up his reputation, we’ve got you covered.
How Did Jeffrey Chodorow Earn His Money?
Jeffrey was born in New York, but his mother moved the family to Miami, Florida, in 1950 after his father died. Growing up, Jeffrey’s family didn’t have a lot of money. After high school, he attended the Wharton School in Pennsylvania and then Penn Law. After getting his law degree in 1975, Jeffrey diversified by foraying into real estate and made his first million in that field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jeffrey moved to New York in 1981 and set up his first restaurant out of the blue in 1987 after he developed a liking for food from a popular restaurant in Los Angeles, California. Over the next few years, Jeffrey set up several restaurants and started China Grill Management. By 2005, he had 24 restaurants in nine different cities and mentioned doing business worth around a quarter of a billion dollars just in 2006.
Regarding his foray into the restaurant business, he said, “Unfortunately, most people — and we’re sort of changing that now — but most people thought of me as a wealthy investor guy who just invested money in restaurants. A business person who just opened up these mega-restaurants, and it was just about the money. But that was so far from the truth.” He then added, “I’m a foodie trapped in a business person’s body. People say about me, I’d go around the world for the opening of a clam.”
Jeffrey is also known for his keen business acumen; he had alliances with celebrity chefs like Alain Ducasse, Claude Troisgros, and Matthew Kenney, among others. These relationships led to immense profits and an increase in the popularity of his restaurants. Todd English, another celebrity chef, said of Jeffrey, “[He has] a good sense of what works in a restaurant. A good management team, management principles. He is a really smart guy who knows how to make money.”
However, Jeffrey’s life has not been without its problems. In 1988, he headed BIA-COR Holdings, which bought Baniff Inc., hoping to turn it into a low-cost airline. However, that led to him going bankrupt and later going to prison for four months in 1994. Jeffrey had pleaded guilty to two counts of obstructing justice for providing a false affidavit about the improper involvement of a partner in the management of the airline.
Jeffrey Chodorow’s Net Worth
Jeffrey’s restaurants were incredibly profitable, with him claiming in 2007 that his original China Grill restaurant was well on its way to gross more than $11 million. Considering the restaurant empire he has built, Jeffrey Chodorow’s net worth is estimated to be around $5 million.
Read More: Where is Jeffrey Chodorow Now?