Multiple people have accused the restaurant’s managers of, as one reviewer put it, “steal[ing] their employees [sic] tips,” a practice another reviewer called “awful at best and illegal at worst.”
On Saturday, the manager of the Uptown Minneapolis Bonchon’s Facebook account took some time to address customers’ concerns. First and foremost, according to the post, they were right.
“We feel that we not only owe our staff the sincerest of apologies, but an apology and explanation to our customers as well,” the post began.
Yes, Bonchon had withheld 30 percent of its servers’ tips during their “probation” periods – the first few weeks after workers are hired. Not to “belittle and mistreat” its servers, the post explained, but to “help show appreciation to our equally amazing kitchen staff” by redistributing those tips to them.
It should be noted that punitive or not, this scenario is the textbook definition of wage theft. Meddling with servers’ tips – including distributing them to other workers – is definitely illegal, a fact that Bonchon Minneapolis thanked Facebook users for bringing to its attention. It was a “mistake,” a post on Sunday explained, made by a “new opened store” [sic] and would be corrected immediately by reimbursing the servers.
Some Facebook users aren’t buying it.
“Does [your management staff] know ANYTHING about the service industry?” one commenter asked. “If they do, then this wasn’t a mistake. They/you just thought you could get away with it.”
A few of the commenters posted a screenshot, allegedly of a private message between the restaurant’s private Facebook account and an unnamed “customer,” which tells a different story.
“Dear customer,” it begins. “Our staffs are still quite new and still under probation. We withhold their tips because we have a lot of customers’ complaints about the service from on-line and in-store. They will have what they deserve.”
Bonchon has not verified the accuracy of this message, and most of the posts have vanished from Bonchon Minneapolis’ Facebook page as of Monday afternoon. A manager at the Minneapolis store said that the workers have been paid their missing tips, but declined to comment further. A spokesperson from Bonchon corporate says he is “not in a position” to comment on the situation and that corporate was “not involved with franchisees’ internal affairs.”
It’s not clear yet whether anything more will come of Bonchon’s supposed tip withholding, but other eateries have paid dearly in the face of wage theft allegations. This year, Surly Brewing Co. settled a $2.5 million class-action lawsuit over allegedly making tip-pooling mandatory. To this day, it’s considered the largest tip-pooling settlement in the history of the state.