A celebrated sommelier and part-owner of a popular SoHo wine bar has been arrested for allegedly setting fire to multiple outdoor dining structures in Lower Manhattan.
Caleb Ganzer, the 35-year-old wine director and co-owner of Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, was taken into custody on Thursday on a slew of arson and criminal mischief charges.
In one July 13th incident, a man in shorts and a jacket approaches the outdoor dining structure outside Prince Street Pizza at 3 a.m. Video shows him sparking a lighter under napkin dispensers on separate sides of the shed, before casually walking away down the street.
Authorities said that Ganzer was responsible for that fire, as well another set at Forsythia just before midnight earlier this year. In June, he allegedly started a rubbish fire at the corner of Broome and Centre street.
“Every act of arson has the potential to spread rapidly, endangering the lives of New Yorkers and FDNY members,” Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro said in a statement. “Thankfully in these incidents there were no injuries and the suspect has been apprehended before another fire could be set.”
All three incidents happened within blocks of Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, where Ganzer has worked since 2016. That same year, he won a “Best New Sommelier” award from Wine & Spirit Magazine. Before that, Ganzer worked at the ritzy, Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels said that the restaurant was "aware of the incident, and Mr. Ganzer is on a leave of absence." A request for comment left at a phone number listed for Ganzer has not yet been returned.
Last year, he announced that he was running for president on a campaign that included returning civility to politics. The run did not gain much traction.
The Manhattan District Attorney will prosecute the case against Ganzer.