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Celeb Chef Batali Ordered To Return $5.25 Million In 'Skimmed' Tips To Waitstaff, Busboys

Tarry Lodge servers were among more than 100 plaintiffs in the case.

Waitstaff and busboys at Port Chester's will soon get their share of $5.25 million from celebrity Chef Mario Batali after more than 100 restaurant workers successfully sued, claiming they'd been stiffed on tips.

The employees "claimed that his restaurants had illegally confiscated part of their tips to supplement their profits," according to the New York Times.

The newspaper quotes court documents, including details of the alleged skimming policy in action here in Port Chester:

One bartender was told that “it was a policy across the Batali restaurant group” and that the money “went to the house,” a judge, Richard J. Holwell, wrote in a ruling last May. At Tarry Lodge, in Port Chester, N.Y., a spreadsheet divided a night’s tips among waiters and documented a 4 percent deduction, Judge Holwell noted. At one staff meeting, an executive “refused to justify the policy and said it was not going to change,” the judge wrote.

The policy, employees argued, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Along with taking a cut of tips from servers at Tarry Lodge, Batali and co. were accused of using the same policy at other restaurants the celebrity chef owned, including Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono, Del Posto, Esca, Lupa and Otto.

Batali partner Joseph Bastianich called the lawsuit "a shakedown" when it was filed in 2010, but has been silent on the matter since the agreement.

The suit started with two employees — a waitress and a kitchen-runner at Babbo in Manhattan — and picked up steam as more than 100 other Batali employees signed on.

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Suzze March 08, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I was a fan... No more!!! I won't step foot in any of his restaurants, markets or wine stores and won't watch his TV show. Advertisers should boycott. His brand is eternally tarnished. He should be ashamed of this behavior! I am boycotting and will spread the word.
Aidan March 08, 2012 at 10:34 PM
And this guy can't afford real slacks and real shoes? Yikes!
Resq43 March 09, 2012 at 02:06 AM
It wouldn't be fair to the hard working employees to boycott the establishment.
Tony March 10, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Interesting. These workers are really the face of the company. Patrons try the restaurant because of Batali's reputation but they RETURN because of the service. Taking 4% from the hard working people who maintain the restaurant's reputation is a fundamental breach in leadership. Taking the 4% also betrays the patron's intent in giving it in the first place. Shame on you Mario!
Morey Amsterdam March 10, 2012 at 06:05 PM
He is the 1 percent. Not to mention he's a dadblamed moneygrubbing cook. Boycott Mario Batali! Not to mention, the great number of uptight food snobs who patronize his restaurant and food shop. And if you need another reason not to give him a red cent ... he stole $5 million dollars from his servers!!! And that's just what we know about. I would not be surprised if he did other stuff that was not above ground.

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