By Richard Weizel
MILFORD Conn. (Reuters) - The Connecticut restaurant that was the setting of the 1988 movie "Mystic Pizza," which helped launched Julia Roberts' career, has been cited by state labor authorities who found it owed employees $105,000 in back pay and unpaid overtime.
Located in the touristy port town of Mystic, the restaurant which has long capitalized on its role in the film about the lives of three waitresses was also ordered to pay $23,000 in civil penalties for the wage-law violations.
"It's always surprising to us when a business so well known thinks it can violate wage laws and that no one will complain," said Resa Spaziani, supervisor of the Labor Department's Wage and Workplace Standards Division, who once waitressed at Mystic Pizza.
The Connecticut Department of Labor investigated the restaurant after complaints by three employees. It found that over the past two years, workers have been paid less than the state minimum wage of $8.70 per hour and have not received mandated overtime wages.
The probe determined that John Zelepos, who has owned Mystic Pizza for more than 40 years, paid cooks, dishwashers and hosts as little as $5.69 per hour, while some employees were paid $7.40 per hour.
A woman who answered the phone at the restaurant on Friday declined to comment.
The Labor Department reviewed employees' work hours from May 2012 to June 2014 and determined that employees worked up to 93 hours a week and were not paid required overtime, the agency said.
(Editing by Scott Malone and Mohammad Zargham)