Lawsuit accuses chef/proprietors of leading new Seattle cafe Hamdi of wage theft

Immediately after debuting at the stop of 2022 to a lot fanfare, followed by a sudden monthlong shutdown, chef Berk Güldal and co-operator Katrina Schult of top rated new Seattle cafe Hamdi are struggling with allegations of wage and tip theft from 4 previous workforce.

A lawsuit filed in King County Excellent Court docket on Jan. 9 on behalf of four personnel accuses the few of violating the Seattle Wage Theft Ordinance and other point out statutes, which includes failure to spend time beyond regulation, diverting guidelines meant for employees to them selves, failure to regularly give food/rest breaks and — in the circumstance of some of the plaintiffs — unlawful wage deductions and failure to reimburse bills.

The lawsuit arrived 3 days soon after the restaurant’s astonishing closure on Jan. 6, fewer than two months soon after it experienced opened.

Arrived at by cellphone on Friday, Güldal reported, “We are still functioning on that [lawsuit]. To be sincere, our lawyer is using treatment of it, mainly because we did all the things right.” He and Shult deny all the claims, stating that all employees ended up paid out for hrs labored like extra time, and that all acquired and took part in a furnished “family meal” free of cost that constituted their crack time on a offered change. Guidelines, Güldal and Shult reported, were being pooled and appropriately distributed to both of those entrance and back again of home their failure to document this at the outset of the restaurant is, they sustain, the only problem.

“We are one staff,” Güldal explained. “… And we all operate with each other, every person helping every other. Our blunder was just not putting [that] on paper.” The four now-former staff, Shult said, “just went straight to the lawsuit. They did not occur to us, maybe for the reason that they didn’t truly feel like they could … but we’d constantly been open, like, ‘Come to us. If you have any concerns, if you have any complications, we’re in this article to fix issues. We’re in this article to strengthen.’ ” Güldal identified as the lawsuit “very upsetting.”

According to the lawyer representing the 4 previous Hamdi employees, Damian S. Mendez, “The claims [that] are getting brought are truthful, and [Güldal and Shult] did not pay out what they were meant to pay” in terms of both overtime and ideas acquired, with breaks also not acquired.

“Obviously, there’s more than enough proof for me to have brought [the suit], and in that there will be far more evidence by way of the discovery course of action,” Mendez explained. “Things will get sorted out correct — the details will speak for them selves.”

Beginning out as a pandemic pop-up, Hamdi opened in Seattle’s Frelard community in mid-November. There was wonderful anticipation about its Turkish and Anatolian cuisine in the two nearby and national press, with Bon Appétit journal naming it 1 of “The Most Fascinating New Dining places of November” nationwide. Güldal and Shult’s multi-Michelin-starred resumes — his like perform in the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park and SingleThread, hers front of the dwelling for The French Laundry — built it the greatest-profile restaurant opening Seattle experienced viewed in a long time. Reservations had been snapped up as quickly as they had been unveiled.

Then came Hamdi’s closure Jan. 6, with Güldal and Shult saying through Instagram that they ended up “taking this time to do some deep cleansing and to reestablish some things.”

As far as the momentary closure that coincided with the filing of the accommodate, Schult said that likely from managing pop-ups to opening the restaurant was a “big move,” a single that they took with “high hopes.” “We had this vision in our thoughts,” she explained, “because we know how the Turkish hospitality is, and which is what we were going for. And we swiftly recognized that it’s a great deal more challenging to discover that same passion and that similar being familiar with and that exact regard in other persons, and we just recognized quite speedily that we weren’t carrying out that.”

Support was “going down” and a person chef still left owing to a loved ones circumstance, Güldal mentioned, and then “we just wanted to just stage again, and then determine out [how to] get a stronger staff.” An Instagram write-up from Hamdi 3 times before the short-term closure indicated that they were being choosing for all positions, “looking for amazing individuals who get the job done with passion and adore for this field and are prepared to force everyday no make any difference what!”

Hamdi reopened for small business Feb. 8. “Things occurred at the commencing and we figured out lessons,” Güldal reported.