Sushi hotspot fined for labor violations
March 14th, 2013
05:30 PM ET
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Protestors have taken to the streets of Beverly Hills accusing Urasawa, one of the country’s most exclusive and expensive restaurants, of theft. The victims however, are not the well-heeled patrons but are instead the servers and kitchen staff who were cheated out of compensation.

Urasawa, a world renowned Japanese restaurant, has been ordered to pay fines and back wages because it failed to pay overtime or provide breaks to employees.

The shrine to sushi is a just a 10-seat seat restaurant, located off of Beverly Hills’ storied Rodeo Drive. It serves a nearly 30-course menu that changes daily and features delicacies like sea urchin and caviar flecked with gold-leaf, gizzard shad and Japanese barracuda along with house-made salt. Diners flock like religious pilgrims to pay nearly 400 dollars a person (before tax and drinks) for the honor of sitting at their sushi bar and dining omakase (chef’s choice).

However, the California Labor Commissioner’s investigation into working conditions at Urasawa found that things were not quite as luxurious on the other side of the sushi bar. The commission found that the kitchen staff regularly worked over 10 hours each day without overtime pay, rest breaks or meal breaks.

Three workers are due $38,585 in unpaid wages such as overtime and meal or rest breaks, another $18,500 penalty for failure to provide wage deduction statements and $8,700 penalty for failure to pay overtime and to provide rest and meal periods.

Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations, which oversees the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued a statement that read in part, “All workers are entitled to payment for work they perform.”

“These cases demonstrate that wage theft is not just a problem in parts of the state typically associated with the underground economy,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “We are committed to ensuring a just day's pay for a hard day's work whether you wash dishes and wait tables in Chinatown or Beverly Hills.”

Previously - Eat out and speak up to help restaurant workers survive and Does your favorite restaurant take the high road with its workers?

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Filed under: Food Politics • Labor Issues • Restaurants • Service • Tipping

soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. snarfsis

    I have worked in the service industry for years and have never gotten break time for anything no matter how many hours I worked. There are times when I haven't had time to go to the bathroom for hours because I have been so busy. I work in a "right to work" state. If you don't like how things are and complain, they can fire you no questions asked.

    May 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm |

    Most employers in S. Cali and maybe the entire state of California do not treat their employees properly. This is an "at will state" which favors the employer. Currently, companies use ageism in their hiring practices and pay nearly half in compensation. A position that should pay 25 hr. is offered at 15 hr. to a college grad. Restaurants work their staff overtime without overtime pay, been going on for years. The entire system needs a big over hall and EMPLOYEES need more protection. Here are some of the abuses going on:
    Part time workers (for full time positions) in order to not pay into "benefits" or insurance
    salaried workers made to work overtime without pay
    Weak salary incentives
    Low ball wages which equate well seasoned workers to college grads – same wage no matter
    Firing for no reason except to save company $ (which mars the employees resume and chances for next job)
    Chase keeps bank tellers on their feet all day (not allowed to sit on a stool or rest except for one hour lunch).
    Glass ceilings to those who are not "Pretty enough" or "young enough"

    March 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Ofelia

    CNN should stop posting EVERY ONE of these single-digit IQ comments.

    March 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
  4. Rest Owner

    The employees must have been getting paid partial off-the-books. Someone figured out to call and place a complaint with the labor dept to get "back and overtime pay". Let's read the article carefully. All the info is there.

    March 16, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • DoubleAce

      OK, I'll bite. I just reread the article twice and don't see anything that hints they were "getting paid partial off-the-books." What am I missing?

      March 17, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • ed dugan

      Lets's just say that the nutcases that pay $400 to eat there and the owners who wouldn't know a good meal if it hit them in the face deserve each other. As for the employees, they can always quit.

      March 17, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  5. altalks21

    This just shows that laws and regulations are still to weak for employees and consumers.

    March 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Joe

      Not sure how this article shows that the laws do not protect consumers. How exactly were the restaurants customers hurt? As for employees, this article shows that the laws work because the employees ended up receiving a big cash bonanza when the government cracked down on the owners.

      March 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
      • altalks21

        This should not have happened in the first place. Just like the fall of our economy, we need to have stronger oversights, so that it never happens AGAIN.

        March 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • SixDegrees

          What did you do to prevent either from happening? I believe the term "Monday morning quarterbacking" comes into play here rather strongly. But by all means, please enlighten us as to how government is to proactively prevent bad actions on the part of its citizens?

          March 18, 2013 at 3:49 am |
        • Engage Brain First

          Okay, so the law works, the employees got paid, the news got out about the enforcement. Why do we need STRONGER enforcement for something that works. Fracking id10t who thinks we need more government, get a clue.

          March 18, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • AGeek

        "big cash bonanza". They were awarded a judgement. That and $5 will buy you a SBUX coffee. Let's see if these people end up getting paid, or if they'll need to fight further to get their award actually paid.

        March 18, 2013 at 7:29 am |
  6. Partisan

    This is typical behaviour from liberals.

    March 16, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • nfclrd

      Those British!

      March 16, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Jim

      I'd say your logic is twisted – except you haven't made any argument whatsoever. Just a stupid, completely irrelevant, point.

      March 16, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  7. Todd

    While the tips on a $400 check sound awesome – a restaurant serving 30-course meals is probably only turning over a table once every 3 hours or so, and there are only ten tables in the restaurant. A waitress there likely gets two, maybe three tables a night. Meaning she might actually make more money at an Olive Garden where she's getting 40 tables a night with $60 checks. It's a volume thing.

    California absolutely is over-regulated so far as employment law goes, but break law isn't one of the problem areas. Break law came out of employers driving their workers so hard they LITERALLY died on the job. If this was something like record-keeping, I'd probably sympathize with restaurant and agree that the regulations are onerous. But break law? Not so much.

    March 16, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Also, big bills correlate strongly with small tips. This isn't too surprising; it takes the same amount of effort to carry a $200 plate of sushi to the table as it does to carry a $4 cheeseburger, and there's only so much people are willing to pay for ambiance. A friend who waited at Ruth's Chris dreaded large parties; although their bills would sometimes drift into the low thousands, their tips were often a meager 1% – 5%, and wound up being less per unit time than much smaller parties. That's why so many restaurants have automatic gratuities added for large parties.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:54 am |
    • Mark server ever died on the job from being overworked. Almost all servers I worked with did not want to take a 30 minute, off the clock meal break. They wanted to stay and serve their guests! They didn't want to trust the table to another server, who doesn't know the guests or their order. The lawsuits are the result of scumbag lawyers that go ambulance chasing restaurant workers in the parking lot after work. It got so bad in fact that servers were threatened with getting fired if they didn't take their break...they just didnt want to do it. No restaurant made more money by denying a server a's only the server who lost out.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:02 am |
  8. CalBM1

    Oh my God ,the GOP needs to rush this douchbag a tax break or he will surley go bankrupt.

    March 16, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  9. PaxLoki

    $400–just a little out of what I'm willing to pay for a meal–$390 tops–peace, love and speed

    March 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  10. T

    ............AKA............the Republican Sushi Outlet...............or.........CHEATS -R-US..............

    March 15, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Mike

      Nice attempt at wit there T Did you ever look around and think that maybe you are part of the problem?

      March 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  11. jeff

    The food service industry is probably the most dishonest industry there is. If people only knew the conditions of these kitchens they would never eat out again. Most resteraunts set their pay periods on a 15 day pay schedule that allows them to screw employees out of overtime pay.

    March 15, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Uh – how does that work? Labor laws are simple and very, very clear: overtime kicks in when you exceed 40 hours in a given week, end of story. There's no magical pay-period gerrymandering an employer can perform to get around this and stay within the law.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:55 am |
  12. Mark

    I, for one, was HORRIFIED when I learned that Obama was doing this to the waitstaff!!!

    March 15, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Getfiddleman

      Just can't get over that Obama is your re-elected president, can you.

      March 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • Kica

        lolol....poor things are still in denial about that. HAVE A SEAT UNTIL 2016, oh wait....A Dem will be elected then too!!!

        March 15, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
        • mmi16

          In 2016 there will be even fewer old white men as a percentage of the electorate for the GOP to pander to.

          March 16, 2013 at 6:29 am |
  13. joe

    The easy way to make them is have them fix this is take pictures of the "exclusive Hollywood" crowd that goes there and show them to the public.

    March 15, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Jim

      Why do you think this has anything whatsoever to do with the "exclusive Hollywood" crowd? this is entirely the fault of the management, not the patrons.

      March 16, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  14. Dan

    As a business owner, I think the ruling is fair. It's unfair to the competitors that follow the labor rules and pay their workers appropriately. If the laws aren't enforced, then every restaurant would eventually do the same. There are other problems, like slip and fall cases that raise insurance costs and idiot ADA related lawsuits for mental issues that threaten businesses more.

    March 15, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Jimmy-James

      It's not fair. It's the law.

      March 16, 2013 at 4:56 am |
  15. joe

    So its really nothing but a fancy sweat shop. CLOSE THEM DOWN

    March 15, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  16. rare_earth

    You're more likely to get a tip at a chain restaurant than you are at an exclusive joint like this one.
    The truly wealthy seldom tip.

    March 15, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Engage Brain First

      Amen brother, testify. Super rich are super cheap for the most part. Worked at a place that took care of billionaires and millionaires, some tipped well, the others DIDN'T.

      March 18, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  17. John

    So, did they investigate the employees for claiming 100% of the tips they got? That's the only reason I can think of for why the employees did not quit. After all, Obama fixed the economy and created all these jobs so they have plenty of other options, right?

    March 15, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Commentator_Prime

      Some of my socks shrunk in the dryer... all Obama's fault. What else can I blame on him... oh everything!

      March 15, 2013 at 9:34 am |
      • Bill d.

        No, if you ask Obama, it's Bush's fault.

        March 15, 2013 at 10:10 am |
      • Me too

        He didn't get my kids to school on time this morning either. Darn him.

        March 15, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • john

      blah blah Obama did this , blah blah Obama didn't do that blah blah .... Geeez Get off the Obama blame train . I don't think he dines on Sushi at that restaurant anyway .

      March 15, 2013 at 9:35 am |
      • john

        The above was for the OTHER (least significant other John) .

        March 15, 2013 at 9:36 am |
      • Brad

        Wow this sounds real familiar. No wait diff prez. So how does stupid blamng feel when it is on the other foot?

        March 15, 2013 at 9:58 am |
      • Mark

        Why, you're on other posts bashing Bush. You may not be directly, but since you're obviously and Obama fan you are indirectly . . .

        March 15, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • SolitudeDaChosen

          Wow! This story is about an overpriced restaurant stiffing it's workers, yet some of you managed to turn it political and blame Obama or Bush, and other dumb stuff. This legacy of idiocy really is appaling.

          March 15, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Marc

      Rant Rant Rant Rant Rant Rant Rant. Are these Republicans really such simpletons that they continuously rant about Obama? You must live one very sad life to be this wrapped up in hate for someone. people like you who whine at every chance on every story are exactly the reason why people are abandoning the Republican party. You have become a bunch of drama laden cry babies.

      March 15, 2013 at 9:54 am |
      • Brad

        one work for you Mark.... Bush Hows hope and change working for you? full 360 baby

        March 15, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • Warhammer

        It's a cycle we go through. Republicans go nuts when a Democratic president is elected. And the Democrats go nuts when a Republican president is elected. Always pointing fingers at each other and playing the blame game on why our country is screwed up. Pathetic!

        March 15, 2013 at 10:05 am |
      • joe

        Dude has the brain of a parrot – "Squawk" Obama did it "Squawk"

        March 15, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • frontgate

      Yes, they do. Some folks just like serving jobs, because of scheduling flexibility. They still have to be paid. Of course as a reflublican, you no doubt don't believe in workers rights and want to protect the rich. You also, must be very rich... or stupid.

      March 15, 2013 at 10:13 am |
      • Skibobi

        It's LA...all the waitresses are "actresses" waiting to be discovered by famous restaurant patrons.

        March 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Use some Logic

      The "kitchen staff" was being overworked without proper compensation, not the servers. Read the article please. Sure they get a portion of the tips from the waiters, but not much.

      March 15, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Craig

      John, are you retarded? The employees that were cheated out of overtime pay and breaks worked in the kitchen. I don't know what restaurants you dine at, but I sure as hell haven't heard of one where kitchen workers receive tips.

      March 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  18. Brad

    Unfortunately, what *likely* happened here is that the employees would only work for cash because some or all were undocumented. Then, they find out they can get a pay day if they all sue the employer, who cannot prove that they were paid because it was all in cash. This is the cold hard truth. It is happening a lot in NYC and I have seen it first hand.

    March 15, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • M I Snow

      You're an id1ot... how can you "...what 'likely' happened here..." and then two lines below state "This is the cold hard truth" – Well bub 'likely' doesn't equate to "cold hard truth"

      March 15, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Arnold Bath

      This is not a Taco Bell you moron, it's a high-end sushi restaurant where customers are paying $400 a plate.

      I guarantee you all of the kitchen staff had some kind of culinary training, and are all documented.

      March 15, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  19. tv22

    Shocking, overworked and underpaid people in the restaurant industry. Go to a family-run Asian restaurant if you really want to see people working hard for little pay.

    March 15, 2013 at 7:58 am |
  20. Tundra_Yet_Again

    Making the tips that accompany $400 a person meals before drinks, Fine I'll skip a couple breaks.

    March 15, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • Mike


      March 15, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • David

      Yeah, but a 30 course meal? How many $400 customers are they going to serve in a shift? And given the average citizen tips proportionately less as the bill gets higher I'm not sure those tips would really amount to sum huge sum of money.

      March 15, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • OMAR

        This are not your average citizen, so they don't tip as regular citizen..

        March 15, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  21. Josh

    Out of all the people here, I wonder just how many of them would be happy if all the waitstaff took their 1 hour dinner break, while they were waiting at a table to be served?

    March 15, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • Manyo Mado

      How many other restaurants do you go to where all the staff take their break at the same time? Ridiculous comment.

      March 15, 2013 at 7:38 am |
    • Mark

      You see d***my they all wouldn't take their break at the same time.

      March 15, 2013 at 7:39 am |
    • Hubes

      As someone who has worked in a restaurant, I can tell you that the meal breaks do not come during "normal" hours. For example, we had opportunities to eat at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

      March 15, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Eric

      Not me, because I'll never pay $400 for raw fish, or any other meal, for that matter.

      March 15, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • rainbow cadet

      When I worked in a restaurant (many years ago), we didn't get a 1 hour meal break... we only got a 1/2 hour meal break. I suspect this would be true at most restaurants. 1/2 hour meal breaks makes it a heck of a lot easier to schedule than 1 hour meal breaks. If a restaurant was giving 1 hour long meal breaks, they would probably have to hire more people, just to cover the meal breaks... doubt most restaurant owners would want to do that.

      March 16, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  22. Josh

    Reads like this place doesn't do anything different than any local Walmart.

    Are they being singled out only because they are smaller, a lot smaller, than Walmart???

    March 15, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Mark

      No but you're being singled out because your brain is a lot smaller those in the fish they serve.

      March 15, 2013 at 7:41 am |
      • Manyo Mado

        Yes – the troll is up early this morning.. my regards to his mother.

        March 15, 2013 at 7:43 am |
  23. joe smith

    so this is a theft of services; BUT, ATT/VERIZON, can charge everyone of us 100% of our phone bill, but give us 90% coverage, and we just accept it..sounds like the State of California, and some competitive restaurant are in bed with each can bet they will NEVER face off with the fraud that exists with the utilities..

    March 15, 2013 at 6:46 am |
  24. gager

    Why is there a law on how to pay employees...No force is involved and the free market should be left alone. Working overtime without pay happens all the time. The government needs to get out of the behavior business.

    March 15, 2013 at 4:59 am |
    • Shawn

      Are you mentally handicapped? Seriously? Why is there a law dictating what employers have to pay their employees for? That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever read here. The answer is pretty simple. If those laws weren't in effect, employers simply wouldnt pay their employees. Employers, not all, but more than you would like to admit, would simply continually hire new people and never pay a cent in labor. They would force HOURLY workers to work without pay or lose their job. People simply cant quit their jobs when working from pay check to pay check. The reason these laws are in effect today is because of what happened yesterday. Take some history classes. The old saying that those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it is quite apt when people like you don't remember the working conditions of the past.

      March 15, 2013 at 5:20 am |
    • johnharry

      you know you'd be the first one in line for your overtime check. don't even deny it

      March 15, 2013 at 6:35 am |
      • Josh

        I work overtime, a lot of overtime, and have never gotten paid a dime for it.

        Its called "exempt" because we are, for some reason, exempt from the laws.

        March 15, 2013 at 7:16 am |
        • Alex Dumas

          If you're exempt, then you must be on a salary.

          March 15, 2013 at 7:42 am |
        • Another "exempter"

          Yes, and you're probably paid the same whether you're there 5 hours or 11, you don't have to punch a clock, maybe you can even call in and "work from home today" and yes, you're an "at-will" employee, meaning you can be fired at any time, for any reason. It's called "salaried" or "management," and you get a few "perks" that lower-ranking employees don't that make it worthwhile for some. And generally, no, you don't get "overtime" pay past "8/40" if you're "salaried" or a "manager." Them's the rules, pal. Get with it or get over it. I realize this is probably *not* taught in school, but...welcome to The World.

          March 15, 2013 at 9:54 am |
        • ColB

          "EXEMPT" positions are a two edged sword: you salaried, therefore you do not get overtime. However, when you leave work early for personal reasons (Dr appointment), you are not docked time or have to take vacation time. Serve staff in the food industry are paid a very minimum wage ($2.41/hr in Nebraska). Tips must take their average wage to equal th prevailing minimum wage of the state. TIPS on the table are almost impossible to track accurately; TIPS on charges and party sheets are. THE IRS says that if the trackable tips equals 8% of the total server carry, the IRS willnot audit the employee or the company. Why only 8%, because some people do not tip, some tip a little, some tip alot; so the IRS is taking a position that is enforceable. If the owner is not paying overtime for its staff, then it is in violation of federal labor laws and should be held accountable. YES, it is hard to take a break in the food industry, but that is managements challenge to address to insure their employees are treated fairly.

          March 15, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • johno

      Because of avaricious, selfish, wicked, evil, inane persons like yourselves. Who would not and could not walk a tenth of a mile in these people's shoes. It's just a matter of time before you will have to cope with the same.

      March 15, 2013 at 6:48 am |
    • Will

      I suggest you read a few books, study history, look at labor issues across the world...then come back and tell us all that you've grown and understand how foolish your comments were. That is all, dismissed.....

      March 15, 2013 at 7:48 am |
    • Will

      Wow! I suggest you read a few books, study history, look at labor issues across the world...then come back and tell us all that you've grown and understand how foolish your comments were. That is all, dismissed.....

      March 15, 2013 at 7:50 am |
  25. yup

    for $400 ... one expects more than just food to be satisfied ...

    March 15, 2013 at 4:48 am |
  26. Demoslikia

    Now that they hit up a known Beverly Hills hotspot, how about going after known flagrant violators in the television production field? Start with John Wells Production and his television shows – no breaks, does not honor union contracts, pays under the table a small amount to cover the violations of no breaks ... they've been fined once for this. Time to maybe revisit them.

    March 15, 2013 at 4:10 am |
  27. bcshepard

    Ok so the employers are jerks (obviously).. but the employees also could have left if they felt it was slave labor. One question is are these by the hour employees or salary. Either way employers would be dirtballs..

    Go to asia, africa etc you'll find out what it means to be screwed out of wages worked for. Ask Apple they get rich from screwing people out of wages earned in worse conditions than plantations in Europe and the US.

    March 15, 2013 at 3:58 am |
    • Shawn

      They would have to be hourly workers. Most likely waiters and chefs.

      March 15, 2013 at 5:21 am |
    • kevin

      So we should aspire to creating worse working conditions?

      Why not try to build a strong society by protecting the vulnerable from exploitation, and by ensuring that anyone working full-time gets a decent living wage?

      Income disparity is the root of many of America's problems. There's enough to go around, except the 1% take more than half.

      March 15, 2013 at 6:36 am |
      • Why knot

        Why not? Because as long as it happens to "them" (read: anyone but me), WGAF?

        Whoops. They're doing this to ME???? Cue outrage. Same-old, same-old.

        March 15, 2013 at 9:59 am |
      • crbcorg

        Income disparity? How about just working?

        March 15, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • PunchInTheFace

      Because the employees ALREADY WORKED THE HOURS!! The employer owes them for the time they already worked. If I do a contract job for a client and he stiffs me on billing, I'm not just going to simply walk away from the money owed me– I'm going to sue the deadbeat and get what's due me for the work I already put in! Why would it be any different for an hourly employee? The amount of stupidity that bubbles from people like you is the reason this country is going downhill.

      March 16, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  28. Jeff

    I'm not surprised. If it's not nailed down they steal it. The penalties for doing this are not enough of a deterrent to make them follow the law. I believe the State can only go back three years. Think how long this has been going on. Much longer than three years. They skate on the rest.

    March 15, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  29. lamination1956

    Anybody legal iin that place?

    March 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • jj

      Are you legal in this country? Which european ghetto did your ancestors come from?

      March 15, 2013 at 3:26 am |
      • Josh

        The Cherokee Nation. Pretty sure my people were here long before you guys.

        March 15, 2013 at 3:52 am |
        • johnharry

          its the internet eveyone's an indian

          March 15, 2013 at 6:36 am |
        • geeworker

          100% cherokee ?? if not step!!!

          March 15, 2013 at 7:09 am |
      • Josh


        March 15, 2013 at 7:17 am |
  30. jayson

    does anyone have any idea how much rent or taxes is in Beverly Hills. anyway its ok for the state for charge you taxes for your food and drinks. now they're going after the employers again for workers pay. what a bull crap of a state thats why its not worth running your own business anymore you need license for this and that and now this ...

    March 14, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Go Ducks

      If you're stupid enough to pay $400 for lunch, and you are stupid enough to live in California, then you deserve what you get.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • Bill

      If paying your employees in accordance with the LAW is a problem for you, then yes, you should not be running anyone's business let alone your own.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
    • Sharp

      The only bull crap here is your fascist approval of a rich restaurant cheating it's workers out of their hard earned pay.

      March 15, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • necr0manced

      Go back and read the story again. Have someone explain the big words. The state labor officials have a responsibility to protect workers. Especially from greedy slave driving a-holes like the ones who own this restaurant. The only thing surprising is that a state body anywhere actually did it's job.

      March 15, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • stevetall

      You're not really that sharp, are you. Are you sure you're not on drugs? Maybe you should just pay attention and keep your trap shut. You can't seriously mean that this restaurant is the vistim for having to obey the law and pay their staff properly, do you? If so, go back and read my first sentence!

      March 15, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • Jean

      You do realize that the restaurant was ~breaking the law~ by not paying overtime and by not allowing the employees breaks and lunch hours, right? The law is a 15 minute break for every 4 hours, a half hour lunch hour (normally unpaid,) and overtime pay for any time exceeding 8 hours on any given day. If you feel it's okay to make someone work 10 hours with no breaks, no food, and no overtime pay for the extra 2 hours, you're not a very good person, and I pity you!!!

      March 15, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • Kyle

      I live in LA and a friend of mine owns a skin care shop (facials, nails, etc.) in BH on a side street and she pays $6,000 a month. The rumor is some of the "small" stores on Rodeo drive rent for $30,000 per month.

      March 15, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • Doug

      I know, you should do what I did, move your business to Arkansas, you can make employees work 12 hour days, no overtime pay, they can't ad so you can cheat them our of wages every pay and if they say anything you can threaten them and it's ok with the state... It's awesome... The downside, I have no customers..

      March 15, 2013 at 3:18 am |
    • Doug

      Can you believe someone has the nerve to whine about business costs after charging 400 plus for lunch... My heart just breaks for these slave drivers !

      March 15, 2013 at 3:31 am |
  31. Thatcher

    As someone who grew up eating in fine dining restaurants weekly in New York and still is a consumer of fine dining I am disgusted by the behavior of this restaurant's management. The restaurant industry has great inequities that the general public does not realize. I applaud those restaurateurs who realize a well paid, well fed and well rested staff is not only beneficial for their business but also the right thing to do as employer.

    Moreover, in regards to the poster "Dave", most restaurant workers perform more skilled and talented work than most office workers; furthermore, if you want be a snob at least use proper grammar. Dave if I could offer you one word of advice stick to eating your Hungry Man frozen dinners at home as the World needs less of people like you.

    March 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • GaryC

      Great post. Add a comma after advice.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
      • Thatcher

        I noticed the missing comma after the post went live; unfortunately, there's no edit function. I guess I am the one with egg on my face now.

        March 15, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • CraigRB

      You shouldn't criticize anyone's grammar as yours isn't so good. Also, check syntax, spelling & the use of capital "w" with world.

      March 15, 2013 at 12:16 am |
      • Thatcher

        Thank you for the notes Craig. Although, I would like to note that I was not referring to the world in the celestial sense that describes this rock on which we live but rather giving a name to the microcosm in which we as diners pass through interacting with each other and with restaurant staff on a daily basis (similar to the way that "Industry" is used to describe the food and beverage industry). Furthermore, despite being grammatically correct to start a sentence with the pronoun 'you' it is certainly not stylistically proper.

        March 15, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  32. don

    Glad they got their pay. The owners of this restaurant was crooks, and I bet the dishwashers were Asian immigrants. Their own people that they were taking advantage of. Good for them.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  33. j

    As somebody who worked for a similar high class restaurant, I can tell you that this is more common than you think. This place just got caught. The deal is that these people make good money... but they are scared of losing the job so they let things pass. Also, I don't care who you are... working in a restaurant like this is one of the most stressful jobs I've ever had. The demand for perfection is almost inhuman. That's why things like this happen... you're expected to suffer.

    But the money was great. The hours weren't bad. But now that I have a job where I don't fear/dread going into work I don't see how places like that are worth it anymore.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • smb

      You have no idea.
      I bet you that Urasawa is not making much money. They serve 30 people/night @ $400 = $12K. They server 30 "high end" courses. I have been to many good sushi places in Studio City that charge $100-150 for maybe 10 courses and I have walked away hungry. Even Kabuki charges $6 for two pieces of yellow tail.....if you call that a course.

      Once you take into account the cost of fish, sushi chefs, rent, insurance, a good sized staff, HORRIBLE Cali taxes, I don't think they are doing that well. I think cheaper sushi places probably do a lot better than Urasawa.

      This is a well known problem with high-end stuff as it takes a lot more money to do things well than you earn from it. Companies like Walmart make a lot of money by selling cheap junk to stupid masses.

      Sad thing is that by the time my kids grow up, we Americans will be either living on welfare or working/eating at McDonald's.

      And everyone will be FAT just like SARAH.

      March 14, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
      • Mercury32

        I think your math may be just a bit pessemistic. First, it's $400 before drinks. Second, even if we don't count that $12k per night and open every night is around $360k per month. Uhhh... Restaurant staff are paid in large part on tips. It is also only 10 seats, so even in that location I can't imagine rent is more than $20k. Also, with only 30 diners per night the staff can't be large. So I think you're off. I've taken accounting and am a business analyst and I really think you're off the mark.

        AND! Who cares! The law says pay overtime. If you can't do that, you can't stay in business. Remember it is the same law that says your employees can't steal and the same law that says the landlord can't just decide to take your business away. Your point is flawed and your argument is no better.

        March 15, 2013 at 12:20 am |
        • smb


          like a typical accountant you have no clue about business and I run a hi-tech business.

          From what i have heard, they have a staff of 10+. Rents on Rodeo drive are sky high. They are not open every day.

          Now redo your math.

          Based on your "who cares" comment....I'd wager you work for state of CA not for a company.

          March 15, 2013 at 1:26 am |
        • Mark

          @smb, yeah right, you run a "hi-tech" business but your posting on youtube – I doubt that.

          March 15, 2013 at 2:55 am |
        • Uncle Don

          I don't see anything that says they only serve 30 people a night. It says 30 courses. With 30 seats, I'm sure they serve a lot more than 30 people. That makes their daily gross much higher than 12k.

          March 15, 2013 at 8:16 am |
      • Guy

        @SMB .. if Urasawa management cannot run their business within the purview of the law, then no one asked them to run that business. They are welcome to "work" as an employee somewhere else, instead of trying to be a capitalist/entrepreneur attempting to make profit. In short, quit whining about not being able to business and stealing from workers instead.

        March 15, 2013 at 2:09 am |
  34. exwaiter

    From a fine dining server's perspective, yes shady things happen in the industry, but really the hourly is insane considering no real education is required. Your only asset is your ability to work your tush off for the 5 hours when the restaurant is bumping. And not complain too much...

    March 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Mark

      Did you miss the 10 hour day with no breaks?

      March 15, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • kevin

      I think if you worked a few shifts in a kitchen, you would receive a "real education". The idea that an education should be a lottery ticket that permanently places you in a higher class than others, so they deserve hard work with little pay while you deserve more pay is part of what's wrong. My family was poor before I worked my way into a good job, and I can tell you that minimum wage work is often more difficult and demanding than what engineers and software developers do. The difference is having a specialized set of knowledge that pays, not how hard they work.

      March 15, 2013 at 6:46 am |
  35. smb

    This is how Cali is killing off good businesses. Pretty soon all we will have is McDonald's. Meanwhile the labor commissioner (Julie Su) probably takes home $300K and will enjoy a $9 MILLION pension ($300K/yr x 30 years). I don't see anyone getting riled up about it. Welcome to HELL.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Mark

      I see, so to you, its okay to steal wagers?

      March 15, 2013 at 2:56 am |
  36. Troy

    Don't think these guys are going to have too much luck getting a job in another restaurant.

    March 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  37. TBC

    Let's See......
    $400 dollar dinner

    40% food cost= $160
    30% Labor Cost$120
    25% Utilities, Rent, Insurance, Work Comp, Ect....$100

    Total Cost $380 that's $20 per guest to ownership

    $400 x 20% gratuity $80 Min. wage is $7.85 per hour, having to serve 4 guest per day working 10 hours would be close to 40 dollars an hour....... This is State labor at its worst. I hope every restaurant in CA revolts!

    March 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Mercury32

      Sorry, 30% labor on a 10 seat location? Too high. Leaving out drinks? A very important omission. 25% rent/utilities? They make $360k per month, you think their rent and utils is $80k for a 10 seat location? No, not even in Beverly Hills. I think you are underestimating their income by at least $25k per month or $300k per year.

      March 15, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Dean

      Do you really think the owner spends $120 on labor for one meal for one person ? There's one born every minute, and you sir, are clearly a minute-man. At minimum wage in CA ($8) with overtime for the last two hours ($12 woo-hoo !, see how far that goes on Rodeo Drive), that would be 13.6 hours of work for each and every customer. (1.36 people work 10 hours just to serve a single person at a single seating.) That would also mean the 10 seat restaurant had about 68 people working every day they were open. Oh, and wait staff are often paid under minimum wage, which is allowed if tips make up the difference. Verdict : fat chance they are paying $120 in labor per seating.

      As for the $20 dollars (and I believe it will be much higher), if the owner is only providing capital and signing checks, perhaps that is all they should earn. Think about for a minute : They are running 10 hour shifts, so likely are open at least 8 hours/day (they could have more than one shift, but not likely). Each seat should get at least 5 sittings, and perhaps 6. I assume for a 30 course meal at $400, we are talking at least an hour at the table. The 5 seatings gives 1:36 per seating if open 8 hours.

      $20 times 5 seatings, times 10 places = $1000/day for doing nothing except signing checks. Even if they are only open 20 days/month, we are looking at 20,000 / month, or just under a quarter million dollars a year, again for nothing except signing checks. If they are making closer to $50/seating, then they are making $600,000/year.

      If the owner is complaining about it, while screwing over people making less than $12/hour, perhaps it is time again to build guillotines.

      March 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • rainbow cadet

      This may be a shocker to you, but not everyone tips at the 20% rate. There are still a lot of folks who use 15% as the standard tip; then there are the cheapskates (both rich and poor) who still only tip at 10% or less.

      March 16, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  38. SARAH

    Typical asians....!! never work for an asian boss...!!!

    March 14, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • smb

      You sound like a typical welfare bitch. Bet you don't have a job and live on welfare.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
      • Mark

        "You sound like a typical welfare bitch. Bet you don't have a job and live on welfare."

        smb claims to run a high-tech company, how many CEO's act like that? Exactly.

        March 15, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • j

      More like typical high-clas restaurant. But thank you for being racist!

      March 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  39. OU812IC

    I also will bet anyone that a vast majority of the seafood you are eating and paying $400.00 for is not what they say it is
    They are giving you cheaper fish and seafood because they know most people do not know the difference
    Been there done that and this place does that

    March 14, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • rs1201

      There's no fish on earth that I would pay $400 for...I don't care what they call it...

      March 14, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • smb

      Posts like yours remind me why this country is going to hell. Urasawa is the best sushi in USA. I have not been there, but will go someday. You read an article about mislabeled fish in low quality restaurants and supermarkets and generalize it to Urasawa. People like you go to Wall mart and buy cheap Chinese crap. This is why quality made stuff from USA is disappearing and pretty soon all we will have around us is junk.


      BTW, how much education do you have and do you run your own business or work for someone else?

      March 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
      • LOL

        You must think you are much better than everyone else because you can afford to blow $400 or more on a piece of fish then think that you can talk down to everyone who can't. News flash for ya Bernie...real wealth has nothing to do with your materialistic babble. Eat well sloth, you will one day rot in a tomb and be forgotten.

        March 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
      • Larswald

        "Urasawa is the best sushi in USA. I have not been there...".
        Does anyone else find these two statements ridiculous?

        March 15, 2013 at 12:54 am |
      • soysucielo

        You've never eaten there but can say with authority they serve the best sushi in the country? Having worked in the food service industry for over 45 years, I feel qualified to say that you are full of crap. Food is very subjective. Not everyone likes the same things. Now if you had said that you have eaten there and it was by far the best sushi you ever ate, I would concede the argument to you. But sadly, you rely on the opinions of others. Opinions which are just as subjective as yours or mine.
        If you rely on food critics for your info, you should note that the restaurant being rated will nearly always have a prominent (read expensive) advertisement in the same publication. You have to pay to play.

        March 15, 2013 at 2:44 am |
      • Mark

        He is just a right-wing trailer park troll that pretends to own a company. LOL never been but will go someday, that is pathetic. – how can you know what its like if you were never even there? Utter BS.

        March 15, 2013 at 3:00 am |
  40. ANNIER

    I lived in Japan for five years. For that reason, NO-ONE could pay, convince, bribe, threaten, cajole me into eating that stuff for ANY reason. I believe this sushi thing is sort of a "snob appeal" food and if you truly KNEW what you're eating, and the dangers within, TRUST ME – you wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot barge pole....

    March 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
  41. Dave

    why are the workers complaining ??? if i was making 20% tips on 400 a person meal i wouldn't complain. wish i had that job. anyway here we go again california mofia going after small business so they can get their cut. maybe oneday everyone moves out of cali then they will wake up ...

    March 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • silas

      Key word / if they getting the tips - specifically credit card tips

      March 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • George B

      You know restaurants have other workers besides wait staff. I don't think dishwashers get a lot of tips.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Lone wolf

      What a lame comment!

      March 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • F Labella

      Dave, you really need to read the article before making comments. The article is talking about their kitchen staff not their serving staff. I own a restaurant and pay my kitchen staff a living wage not because I have to but because it's the right thing to do and guess what, I have a loyal hard working staff with almost no turnover. They can also afford to eat out on occasion.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
      • Paul

        That's my experience also. Staff know when they are being taken advantage of, they my stay because they need the job but they will never be loyal. Thanks for the post.

        March 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
      • Dave

        im sure you dont provide health insurance and over time. i dont know any small restaurant that pays over time. anyway, God bless you if you wish to give your workers 20an hr 8hrs shift and over time. i bet you charge 30 dollars for a burger!!!

        March 14, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
        • F Labella

          I own a large restaurant that has been successful in no small part because of my staff, and yes I do provide health insurance. The cost benefits of treating your staff properly more than pays for the health insurance premiums.

          March 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
        • Mark

          So Dave, there you go again making assumptions and proven wrong – again.

          March 15, 2013 at 3:02 am |
    • Dave

      ok if i pay my dish washer waiters and cooks all good pay benefits and over time. why would i run a restaurant ??? people this is a restaurant NOT a office JOB !!!!

      March 14, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
      • Edwin

        Dave, let me understand you: you imply that you would not want to run a restaurant if you had to pay your employees decent wages?

        Let me know what the name of your restaurant is so I can avoid it. If you are more interested in the bottom line than the restaurant's welfare, I'm sure it shows in the quality of the food - not just the lousy service your attitude will create.

        March 14, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
      • zack

        i own a small restaurant i treat my employees very well thanks to my employees i make a good liveing my employees earn good money evry body is happy you dont treat people difrent in a restaurant or a office you will never be successful a bissness if you think that way

        March 14, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
      • Micah

        It's funny how the comments of an articles are almost as interesting as the article itself. Dave, please do let me know the name of your restaraunt. I would like to come and talk to your staff, see how happy they are, and then ask you man-to-man what kind of difference you are making in the world.

        March 15, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • Edwin

      Maybe they are complaining because their employer violated basic labor law and made them work long, grueling hours with no breaks. Can you imagine working 10 hours in a row with no break to stretch or relax, and no break to eat? Ten hours is a long day without food.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
      • Dave

        Edwin, im sure the media hyped it up. these workers has a choice and im sure if they did that they would have quit. they're just doing it cause workers want $$$ and lawyers and sueing cause they get $$$ its all about $$$. no one forced them to work there it wasn't slavery

        March 14, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
        • jarod

          You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about and thats as far as i am going to go because i don't want to get into a troll fight with someone who has not a lick of common sense, knows nothing about restaurants and most likely also knows nothing about working. If you don't know what your talking about then don't molest your keyboard and shut the f*ck up.

          March 14, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
        • Mark

          Follow through Daves commments, he has no clue about anything – just another dimwit that thinks he understands business and would be an absolute tyrant to work for.

          March 15, 2013 at 3:03 am |
        • crbcorg

          You hit the nail on the head. Ten hours with no food..... Yeah right

          March 15, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • biff mcguzzle

      I have worked as a server in five star hotel dining rooms. More and more these days, even the billionaires I have waited on, will not tip the percentage on an expensive bottle of wine. For example, if I sell an $800 bottle of wine, rarely will I get tipped the 15-20% on it ($120-$160). These days people will tip you on the effort, maybe $30. This is even the billionaires.My guess is that the $400 worth of sushi doesn't take a lot of effort to serve comparatively.I am betting that those servers are getting 5-10% tips.Also, if they are Asian servers, I bet a lot of people use that as an excuse to undertip. Their reasoning is that the staff and ownership is one in the same, a family operation, so they barely tip I have seen it many times. By the way, I am now serving in a place that serves meat loaf and pot roast and I make twice as much an hour as I did in Aspen waiting on movie stars and sporting team owners.Go figure.

      March 15, 2013 at 4:03 am |
    • rainbow cadet

      Not everyone tips at 20%.

      March 16, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • rainbow cadet

      Shocker for you. Not everyone tips at the 20 % level; and with a $400 plus tax and drinks meal, with a 10% tip, the servers would be doing just fine... they would still be making more per hour than I do working in an office.

      March 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  42. Stephen

    I haven't heard of it. It must not be world renown.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • bananaspy

      Or perhaps you just don't know it all like you think you do.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  43. Crippy

    There's a problem if machines at work get more rest than people.

    March 14, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  44. A1one

    Don't hate the JOB CREATERS!!! As if being a paid minimum wage is anything but legal slavery. Down with this i am rich so f the rest of you " bs. We need socialism here in America.
    In equality we trust!!

    March 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Crippy

      Maybe a middle ground is best. We don't have to switch from one extreme to the other.

      March 14, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  45. j

    Big deal, waitresses are forced to work 10-12 hour days straight also with no lunch break and if you ask for one, the boss gets mad

    March 14, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Me

      This is California we're talking about; they overregulate everything.

      March 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
      • Ghast

        This isn't over-regulation. It's guaranteeing that people get paid for their work.

        March 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
      • Mike

        You're kidding, right? They charge per person for one meal the average monthly grocery bill for a family of four, and yet they're too cheap to pay overtime or give their staff breaks??

        March 14, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
        • Cameron


          Do you have any idea how much a monthly payment for a 2013 Lamborghini Aventador is?

          The poor restaurant owner has to probably sell 10 dishes of sushi just to make one payment.

          And don't get me started on the mansion and hired help expenses.........


          March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
      • Larry Winkler

        You're right. Agreements and employment contracts should not be enforceable if the employer says so. The employees should be happy that get paid at all, much less the wages they contracted for. Remember, the employer is your master, like in the good old days. If you're not willing to kiss your employers' ass, you shouldn't be working for them - they bought you, they own you.

        March 14, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
        • TBC

          Please join the real world.......

          March 14, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Edwin

      Waitresses are not usually asked to work 10 to 12 hours without breaks, since federal law requires you give them breaks. The boss may complain about giving them a lunch break, but the boss almost always does it, again because the law is not ambiguous about this.

      The laws are there for a reason, and it is not because California is over regulated. It is because before these laws, employers worked their employees LITERALLY to the death sometimes in factories. Minimum standards of decency were created to protect workers from bosses more interested in lining their own pockets than in treating their workers decently.

      March 14, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
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