Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Seattle “Kitchen Nightmares” family now faces greater test

by Matt Rosenberg July 1st, 2013

A former assistant chef at a popular eatery in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood who starred earlier this year with her engaging, squabbling Greek family on Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Fox Network reality show “Kitchen Nightmares,” has been charged with the felony crime of unlawful imprisonment and a male companion with assault in the second degree for allegedly holding captive and brutally beating in her Shoreline dwelling a resident of a King County Housing Authority apartment complex for seniors and the disabled. According to police reports the victim learned the pair were using crack cocaine during the course of a two-day stay in her home. Other sources including the assistant chef herself in a jail intake interview, and her parents, confirm she had suffered a drug abuse relapse.

Charged with unlawful imprisonment – and apparently at large after the issuance of a judge’s arrest warrant June 26 for violating the terms of her conditional release a week earlier – is Alyse Marie Avgoustiou, 28, last known address Lake Tapps, Wash. Charged with Assault Two is her companion Markel Alexander. With her father Peter, mother Karen and sister Tariya, Avgoustiou was featured last March on an episode of Kitchen Nightmares shot in Seattle post-Thanksgiving at the family’s venerable Greek restaurant Yanni’s as it underwent one of Ramsay’s typically acerbic makeovers replete with high drama.

Another reality, off-screen
Though a vibrant, winning personality as seen on the reality TV show, Avgoustiou’s backstory involves previous struggles with drugs, particularly crack cocaine, according to her family. Court documents in the current case show Avgoustiou has four prior drug-related convictions, plus two for third-degree theft and one for prostitution, all between 2006 and 2008.

Disappeared in late March
Avgoustiou could not be reached for comment and her lawyer declined to speak. But in a lengthy interview at Yanni’s on a hot Sunday afternoon before the 4 p.m. start of dinner service, her parents opened up about their worries and also voiced a degree of resignation about their daughter’s future, which they say despite all they have done to support her, lies squarely in her hands. She disappeared late last March from her assistant chef’s job at Yanni’s, and from their lives and that of the five-year-old daughter on whom she doted, her parents say. It was the day she was scheduled for a drug addiction treatment evaluation, having recently admitted she had been using again since July 2012, her mother said.

According to her parents she had struggled with drugs from the early 2000s when she entered Shoreline Community College until becoming pregnant with her daughter, born in 2008.

Grandparents now raising their granddaughter
In Alyse’s absence her parents are raising her daughter, who is outgoing, verbal and friendly. They say they have learned from a child psychiatrist how to talk to their granddaughter about her mother being away but sometimes questions arise which are very hard to answer. The daughter writes cards and letters to her mother and wants her back, the Avgoustious say. The father may be her co-arrestee Alexander, the Avgoustious say, but they are not sure and never felt comfortable pressing the matter. According to court documents in the current case Alexander has 38 prior criminal convictions, resulting from 90 bookings. He has remained in King Couny custody since both he and Avgoustiou were arrested June 1.

Pins and needles
Karen Avgoustiou adds when she hears new reports of shootings or accidents on regional news outlets she holds her breath waiting not to hear her daughter’s name mentioned as a victim.

Victim still bruised, recovering
Meanwhile the victim of the alleged crime, who suffered a fractured eye socket and a subdural hematoma, or collection of blood on the surface of the brain, is recovering. Interviewed briefly at the front door of her apartment building Saturday June 29, her facial bruises were still clearly visible one month later. She said she had hardly known either of her two guests but declined further comment at the moment.

Good Samaritan impulse not rewarded
According to charging papers in King County Superior Court, filed on June 5, the alleged victim took Avgoustiou and Alexander into her apartment in the 1700 block of Northeast 145th Street in Shoreline for two days on May 31 – which happened to be Avgoustiou’s 28th birthday – because she knew them through a mutual acquaintance and “they had just lost the home they were staying in.”

Ugly incident alleged
But when the victim discovered they “had been using crack cocaine” and subsequently heard them “talking about selling drugs” she “advised them they needed to leave,” according to King County Sheriff’s Office Detective Eleanor Broggi’s probable cause report in the charging papers. At this point, according to Broggi’s report, Alexander “became upset and urinated all over (the victim’s) bathroom.” The victim left and returned several hours later and Avgoustiou helped her administer some of her prescription injection medication; but then according to the victim, began to take her purse. Alexander then began to hit the victim including with an object handed to him by Avgoustiou, causing “extreme pain.” The two would not let her leave the apartment and before departing with her wallet, purse and keys, threatened to kill her if she told police, the report states.

Both alleged perpetrators were taken into custody June 1. In a jail intake interview summarized in current court case records, Avgoustiou told officials “she has a substance abuse problem” and had “relapsed.”

Conditional release terms violated
She was released June 19 after pleading not guilty at her arraignment and signing her acceptance of a conditional release requiring she report starting the next day and on every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the Community Center for Alternative Programs on Yesler Street in Seattle, in lieu of being held in jail until trial or settlement. However when she failed to show the next day and thereafter, prosecutors sought and a judge June 26 signed a bench warrant for her arrest. King County court records indicate she is currently not in custody.

Alyse Avgoustiou’s lawyer is Seattle criminal defense attorney Angelique Weigand. Weigand declined comment when contacted by Public Data Ferret. Peter and Karen Avgoustiou say they believe Weigand is representing their daughter pro bono, as they are certainly not paying for the defense and it is very unclear to them where any funds would come from to pay for any related billings. Alyse Avgoustiou’s next court date is July 3, for scheduling of further procedures in the case.

Unlawful imprisonment, for which Avgoustiou is charged in county court, is a Class C felony in Washington, punishable upon conviction by up to five years incarceration or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.


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