Criniti’s restaurant co-founder pleads guilty to assaulting ex-wife


The couple married and opened their first restaurant together in Parramatta in 2003 before the booming business expanded across the country.

Five years ago, after 11 years together and three children, the pair called it quits in a messy divorce.

At its peak, their Italian restaurant business had 13 locations spanning Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

But administrators in November last year “commenced a restructuring phrase”, the company’s website states, resulting in the “temporary closure” of a number of stores, leaving eight open.

Ms Tannous now owns a fashion business while court documents state Mr Criniti “is/was involved in the Criniti’s chain of restaurants” and runs a cafe within a nursery at Glenhaven.

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Criniti’s co-founder Rima Tannous. Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

Criniti’s restaurant at Wolloomooloo, Sydney in November 2019. Picture: Christian Gilles

Criniti’s restaurant at Wolloomooloo, Sydney in November 2019. Picture: Christian GillesSource:News Corp Australia

The Criniti's restaurant in Manly has since shut down. Picture: Jim O'Rourke

The Criniti’s restaurant in Manly has since shut down. Picture: Jim O’RourkeSource:Supplied

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

On December 29, Ms Tannous – who separated from Mr Criniti five years ago and has dropped her married name on social media – was at Castle Towers shopping centre in Sydney’s northwest where one of the Criniti’s restaurants remains in operation.

According to agreed facts tendered at Parramatta Local Court and seen today by news.com.au, Ms Tannous was standing outside the Peter Alexander pyjama shop and holding bags of shopping when Mr Criniti arrived.

“The accused has approached the victim where a brief conversation took place,” the court documents state.

Mr Criniti was heard saying to his ex-wife: “‘Shut your mouth, I’m going to smack you across the head’, followed by ‘I’ve been thinking about it’.”

“The accused raised his leg and made a sweeping motion and kicked the victim (Ms Tannous) to the right leg, just above her knee causing her immediate pain to the region,” the facts state.

“The accused ceased as the victim began to get the attention of passers-by with raised voices.

“The accused left the location for a period of about one minute.”

The 40-year-old was assaulted by her ex-husband in December. Picture: Facebook

The 40-year-old was assaulted by her ex-husband in December. Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

Ms Tannous then “took advantage of the timing” and fled in her vehicle to report the matter next-door at Castle Hill police station, where she participated in a recorded video interview.

According to the court documents, there were “no visible injuries” suffered by Ms Tannous.

Mr Criniti was arrested on York St in Sydney’s CBD the following day and turned down the option of an electronic interview.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to one count of domestic violence-related common assault of his ex-wife between 2.20pm and 2.25pm on December 29.

He pleaded guilty in January to a separate charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, also domestic violence-related, but has denied a second charge.

Mr Criniti remains on bail and is due to face Burwood Local Court in March.

Victim Rima Tannous. Picture: Facebook

Victim Rima Tannous. Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

Criniti's restaurant Manly. Picture: Jim O'Rourke

Criniti’s restaurant Manly. Picture: Jim O’RourkeSource:Supplied

‘CRINITI’S WAS MY FIRST BABY’

Speaking with news.com.au last year, Ms Tannous said she could not “stay silent any longer” about the problems that had plagued the family business.

She said she was “devastated” at the loss of jobs and the restaurant’s faltering reputation with customers who have complained of expensive, poor quality food.

“Criniti’s was my first baby and I am really proud of what I helped to build at the beginning,” she said in November.

“I put in a lot of hard work to get Criniti’s to a place that it was both successful and stable and felt that I could take the time to step back and focus on my children.”

Rima Tannous, then Rima Criniti, at the launch of their Manly restaurant.

Rima Tannous, then Rima Criniti, at the launch of their Manly restaurant.Source:News Corp Australia

In its heyday, Criniti’s held lavish store openings with red carpets and music performances.

Irish-Australian dance music group The Potbelleez performed at the Manly launch in 2013, attended by a number of Australian singers, actors, television presenters and famous chefs.

Criniti’s was also quick to jump on both the social media bandwagon and popularity of food photography with its three-metre pizza and Facebook albums of people “Snapped at Criniti’s”.

Criniti’s restaurant at Castle Towers in Castle Hill, Sydney.

Criniti’s restaurant at Castle Towers in Castle Hill, Sydney.Source:News Limited



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