chef owner needs help from the wiser

Joined Mar 19, 2017
Hey Chef!!!  S.O.S  HELP!!

My name is Christian I'm 39 I have fought my way through the ranks I have bleed the crimson demi glaze I have sold My soul to this ungodly profession that I love more then hookers and coke!! Nice to meet you all!!! 

I need help!! 

Recently I opened a small quick service restaurant  called Kitchen Market in hudson wi (please check it out on FB) I'm there 12 hours a day 6 days a week 

I have a great following Great reviews and we constantly have new costumers coming in that are referred by others in the community!

HAHA success!!! nope 

during the winter months I had to resort to using my sales tax to keep the doors open. now I'm behind 

because its a quick service place i did not think the tips would be as good as they are but after ppl try the food they are tipping and tipping well!

I run with a very small staff  3 cashers rotating shifts.  $8 pr hr plus cash tips .. 4 cooks $10 per hour 2 dishwashers 8.5 per hour 

I live in a small town and the pickings are slim to none when it comes to professional servers and cooks  

But I take what i can with the hopes that my passion, dedication and down right suicidal dedication will hopefully penetrate there neanderthal like skulls.... I have one cook that seems to show a glimmer of potential every now and then. 

I cook I clean I wipe tables answers the phones run the register solve any issue that may  arises on a daily basis blablabla etc  I'm also a single father and I'm currently the custodial parent!

ok so I hired this older gentalman former bartender slash vet  (and made it very Clear that I'm spread thin i need help I don't no how to separate  the tips yet but i would pay him 8 bucks and he can keep all the cash tips from his shift. well this **** played me like a fiddle!!! he did the bare minimum would not up-sell would not mop would not do anything but put the order into the register and run baskets of food to our 10 tables this guy ****** up more two tops then id ever seen. any way i should have **** canned him right away but like a 16 year old boy to an ugly girl i was desperate  and need the help till about 2 weeks ago when something magical happened 

after a year of absolute stress and total loss of faith in the so-called workforce of incompetent sniveling cry babies  my ***** grew back and my passion flowed once more like an unclogged drain!!! I was down to one cook myself and this snake of a casher for staff I walk up to the register and showed this parasite  how its done and at 9;30 am i sold the first customer 2 beers a piece of our ny cheese cake plus an entre  then turn to him and told him to get the heck out of my restaurant .... It felt great!!! I felt the spirits of 10,000 chefs run through my rotten soul and I decided that never again would i allow someone to take advantage of my weakness that i was going to create a atmosphere and a work place that ppl will beg to work at!

I got a letter from the department of workers rights that this prick had gotten into my computer and recorded every cc card tip for the last three months and is claiming that I did not pay him his  far wage... I  let this guy get away with murder so let me break it down I payed him $8.00 ph plus he made ruffly 15-20 in tips for lunch =60 plus now he wants the cc tips wich believe me i had to run as much food as he did I still had to take orders while he took his time talking to customers etc etc come to find out he was paying himself out of the register  anyway lol!!!

I need advice Chefs and i need it fast money is tight but spring is coming!!!  
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Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
You don't need advice from chefs, you need advice from a lawyer or someone versed in labor law.  I too live in Wisconsin, and sorry to say, but you have an uphill battle.  The system is pretty rigged to side with the employee.  Whether fortunately, or unfortunately, the days of paying people "under the table" or coming up with payment deals based on a handshake. You can't do it in this industry any longer because somehow, some way it is going to come back and bite you in the butt. If you come up with any deal that is out of the ordinary, first make sure that it abides by the law and then get it in writing, to protect yourself. And tipping is really on the government's radar nowadays because they finally realized just how much revenue they have been losing by missing out on taxes on tips.  Your only hope, as I see it, is to prove that he made enough money, with those cash tips, to take him above minimum wage, but proving cash tips is all but impossible unless he was declaring them daily, and even then there are the cc tips and who those rightfully belong to.  You may get some words of wisdom here, but you really need legal advice, which you won't be able to get from us, here at Chef Talk.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Oh man!  I'll be in River Falls this summer and I'd love to eat at a place like this! 
Joined Feb 8, 2009
First of all welcome to Cheftalk. Second of all, your food looks great I could see people be surprised with the appearance and quality. I was legally called out a few times because people turned me in for this and that. If you hire and fire 1000's of people over your career something is bound to happen. 

 I would talk with the person at the department of workers rights and see what they're looking for as far as compensation/ settlement to satisfy the claim. It's not that you are admitting guild, you just can't afford to fight it. My lawyer cost me $250 an hour, it doesn't take long to get into the $1000's. Watch your words when your talking to them. Let them talk more with you talking less. I had a case many years ago, an employee quit because they didn't get promoted. They wanted back wages because they thought they s/b paid as a Chef while I was looking for a Chef. Long story short. The human rights or who ever they were at the time, though the employee may deserve something. But, they didn't think I was breaking the law in doing what I did. In other words this wasn't going away without me paying something. I met with the agency (GUY) and asked them what would satisfy their needs for this to be solved. I said $$$$ they said no, I said $$$$ they said no, I said $$$$ they said closed.....It's not about winning or losing, it's about paying the least amount and get the Hell out of the situation..........ChefBillyB
Joined Jul 28, 2001
For me personally, it would be legal advice first. Do you're due diligence. Gather any and all information, questions, etc. Buy an hour of time with someone who has legal experience in the exact same scenario. Forward a brief description of your situation in writing ahead of time. When you arrive make it perfectly clear that you do not expect chit-chat, introductions, etc. Your goal is to come away from that hour with a positive direction / next step towards a resolution to your situation. If you sense anything negative, don't hesitate to walk immediately. That's why I suggest hourly to start. If you're satisfied and there is more legal help needed, commit the business to him or her. I might also mention that being fairly new to ownership you realize that you may have the need for a go-to legal person as you grow.
When you're gathering all of your info, facts, questions, etc. don't get caught up in a defense mode. Sometime a good offence negates. Find your access points to his information. If he gained private business information illegally, turn and slap him with a criminal charge. You don't need a lawyer to produce a criminal report. the DA will do that for you.
When it come to not following laws like minimum wage, etc. stay away from ignorance. Fess up, tell them your intentions to your licks, make things right, but you're not willing to compensate someone who does not deserve it.
Just me talking now.
but have been there done that in the last 30 yrs. of ownership.
Joined May 1, 2017
I'll echo what has been said here already -- find an attorney, a specialist in labor/employment, and one who has dealt with the governing bodies, government agencies, etc., who can handle this head on and get it resolved. Don't shop for an attorney by price/billing rate. A $500 an hour attorney could be more than twice as good, and twice as fast, as a $250 an hour attorney. However, that goes both ways. Speak with some business owners you know, people who you trust and respect, people who have qualified, quality, experienced opinions.

Good luck.
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