San Diego Restaurant Pachamama Allegedly Calls Police On Former Employees After Reported Dispute Over Required W2 Forms

March 12, 2021

An alleged argument between former employees and ownership over IRS W-2 forms resulted in the police being called to Pachamama restaurant in San Diego's Normal Heights today. 

"Today another former employee and I went to Pachamama to see if the owner might provide our w-2s," explained former Pachamama GM & Operations Director Bethany Barnett in a post to her social media account. "Simply and politely asked if she had w-2s for us and would be willing to furnish them. She told us we would receive them via correspondence. We asked if she had them at the restaurant and could just provide them today. She said they were in the safe but she was very busy and we were not allowed to wait in the restaurant. We said okay, we don't mind waiting outside. She replied that we would be waiting a very long time as she was very busy (too busy to take two minutes to pull documents from the safe). There were two guests, both seated outside, and none in the restaurant."

Victoria Vannucci & Matias Garfunkel

Pachamama restaurant was opened in San Diego's Normal Heights in October 2019 by owner Maria Victoria Vannucci. Vannucci is a former tennis professional and model who has lived in Miami since 2016 after a series of controversies in her home country of Argentina that included backlash due to the dissemination of images of her and husband & media mogul Matias Garfunkel posing with wild animals they'd hunted in Africa. The distribution of the photos of Vannucci with big game animals resulted in the businesswoman filing a successful lawsuit against both her hometown municipality and social media behemoth Twitter. Vannucci's allegedly estranged husband has also been charged over accusations of smuggling hundreds of thousand dollars worth of art. Vannucci hoped to start anew in San Diego. 

Other former Pachamama employees are posting grievances online.

"Once we were outside, an employee closed and locked the front doors," continued Barnett. "As we waited, an ex contractor pulled up. He politely asked to be paid for an invoice due over a year ago which had been emailed and mailed to her and to her accounting firms. She screamed at him to leave the restaurant immediately. She then called the police and claimed that we had assaulted and harassed her. The three of us waited outside for twenty minutes or so. Three police cars pulled up. The officers spoke with the owner, then came to talk with us. They were very polite. They did not even take our information, as it was obvious we posed no threat nor were we abusive or belligerent. One of the officers offered to request w-2s for us, and did. She told him she did not have them. The three officers then told us our options are to call the IRS (for w-2 issues) and go to small claims court (for stolen tips and unpaid invoices)."

Federal law requires all employers to send employees W-2 statements no matter how low earnings or wages are. These W-2 statements can be sent in either paper or digital form and must be received by employees no later than January 31 of the following year. Employers must also file a copy of employee W-2s with the IRS.

We reached out to Pachamama owner Maria Victoria Vannucci for comment on today's incident. She responded with the following statement, as well as copies of what appeared to be POS records and W2 forms:

"2 ex employee came today and start insulting me and and my employee with customers all over the restaurant and one ex employee ( men) came very close and start insulting me," wrote Vannucci in a text message to SanDiegoVille. "This ex employee was terminate on march 2020 for covid-19, we pay everything and we send them the w2 ( we send the w2 to the address on file) if the move or something during covid-19 we don't know.. but we are happy to give again The w2 but insulting and screaming in not the right way. I'm a woman and I won't tolerate when treat this way. I'm very sad. And if you want I can show all the payment and prove all of this as I have security cámaras."

Pachamama is located at 3737-3739 Adams Avenue in San Diego's Normal Heights. For more information, visit

This is a developing story. We will update this post as we learn more.