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."