Pirate Brands founder vows to hire employees back

Robert Ehrlich said he is still running two Robert Ehrlich said he is still running two businesses -- a beverage company and a mobile app startup -- out of the same building in Sea Cliff as Pirate Brands' offices, and that he wants to hire many of the employees who will be laid off after the company was sold to a larger food company. (June 15, 2007) Photo Credit: Newsday File / Adam Richins

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The former chief executive of natural snack company Pirate Brands LLC said Thursday that he wants to hire many of the employees who will be laid off after the business was sold to a larger food company.

Robert Ehrlich, who founded Pirate Brands as Robert's American Gourmet Foods LLC in 1987, said he is still running two businesses -- a beverage company and a mobile app startup -- out of the same building as Pirate Brands' offices.

Pirate Brands, which is known for its Pirate's Booty line of snacks, said in a filing with New York State on Tuesday that it planned to lay off all 55 employees from its Sea Cliff headquarters. The notice came one day after its $195 million purchase by Parsippany, N.J.-based B&G Foods, Inc.

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Ehrlich said he was no longer associated with the company or brand after the B&G-Pirate Brands' deal closed Monday.

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"The intentions weren't known until this week," he said of the layoffs. "I'm not leaving Sea Cliff. I'm leaving the building open and hiring people."

Ehrlich, a native Long Islander and Sea Cliff resident, said he owns the building the businesses are based in and will continue working out of it. As part of the purchase, B&G acquired the Pirate Brands' office lease.

"We're sharing the building with them. They will move out when they move out," Ehrlich said of the lease.

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Ehrlich said he does not know how many Pirate Brands employees he will hire. But he said the beverage company he currently runs, which sells zero-calorie drinks under the label Rob's Really Good, is in a period of expansion and plans to double its employee numbers from 15 to 30.

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