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Mar 14, 2013 11:23 PM

Urasawa fined for labor violations

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  1. Wow. Heard a similar thing about Jinya a few months back but never saw it in print.

    1. Jeez, you would think they could afford to not break labor laws.

      14 Replies
      1. re: jaykayen

        It's more of a industry practice especially with Asians where there is no overtime, its called shift pay which was standard in this industry for many years until labor departments started cracking down.

        I'm not surprised it was happening, I'm just curious what he did to anger a former employee.

        1. re: Johnny L

          He didn't pay him. The guy was sick and left after 11 hour shift, but then because he left early he was fired but never given his last paycheck! The LA times article on this has more info. The entire restaurant employs 9 people. This is shocking to me. How can one know if the restaurant pays a living wage or gives health benefits? Is there a group that certifies restaurant ethics and social justice Magen Tzedek is for kosher. I'm not Jewish but I do look for this this as it does mean something. Magen Tzedek is more common in the NE US and has not been as prevalent here in LA......well it's about time. Magen Tzedek for sushi! Yeah, I said it and I demand it!

          1. re: Johnny L

            Please do not try to say this is an Asian thing, or an industry thing, or that people should be so grateful to work at Urasawa that they should accept it. I have worked in restaurant kitchens as a cook, I have cook friends, and no one would dare try to not pay me overtime. Just to keep it real, though, I do admit that taking a 10 minute break every two hours and then getting a lunch break is unheard of.

            1. re: jaykayen

              I think the fact that a lot of this practice comes over from the country of the origin of restaurants, and the most recent arrivals are, for the most part, Latin American and Asian immigrants bringing the same ideas about work to the US that the had back in their country of origin can be fairly postulated as a general rule. I wonder, for instance, how many of the Korean restaurants in K town adhere to California State and Federal guidelines when it comes to work place rules and regulations?

              1. re: Servorg

                It's true, I have only worked in American/Euro cuisine restaurants. My cousins (immigrants) work in Vietnamese pho restaurants, and their employers might not follow labor laws. IME, Urasawa probably does not have a lot of new Latin American immigrants, or non-Japanese immigrants in the kitchen. I would say the split on following labor laws is not among Asian restaurants or not, it is about the price on the ticket. A pho place that runs 50% off specials constantly and I can get in and out for $5, realistically they may not be able to serve me for $5 if they follow labor laws. For $500 a head, I am really disappointed in Urasawa. This is not ok.

                1. re: jaykayen

                  Another issue at play here is the undocumented status of many of the employees in the restaurant business in general. Those who aren't supposed to be here, working or even living, are loath to make waves when it comes to long hours, no breaks and overtime pay being denied.

                  1. re: jaykayen

                    I'm not sure how recently these people came to America but the name of the ex employee named in LA times was an Hispanic name. Urasawa definitely does not hire Japanese workers in the kitchen (I don't care if they are washing them a just wage on the profits of the company). This is not just "skilled" vs "non-skilled", this is about respect! How can you respect the food or chef when this is what is revealed. Disgusting! and I don't care if you come from a Kingdom. We have rules to protect the weak here.....enforce them with your $!

                    1. re: chewbacca

                      " ...this is about respect!"


                      This is not about politics or laws or cultural "differences;" rather this is about how you treat people. I put forth this same comment below, and chewbacca, I agree with you.

                      1. re: liu

                        Agree that it is about respect and also illustrates the arrogance of the owner. Moreover, it illustrates the lack of respect Urusawa has for the customer if he thinks it is okay for a food handler with the flu to handle raw fish.

                2. re: jaykayen

                  It is an Asian thing because I know from being Asian and working in the Asian restaurant industry. I'm not saying it's right just saying don't be surprised. Also not trying to justify Urasawa but I would think that flying all your fish in from Japan would obviously make things ridiculously pricey from a food costs perspective and the rent on the place isn't much better either. I would see where that would lead them to try and cut corners.

                  1. re: Thor123

                    to jaykayen's post.
                    on my computer, the post to which i responded is shown in light grey in the upper right corner of my post.

                    the primary way i knew your post was directed at me (other than its location) was that my handle showed up in the upper right corner of your post.

              2. This is just part and parcel of the industry.

                Everyone does it. It just depends on whether you get caught or not.

                15 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  What's your point, that it is ok so long as you don't get caught?

                  1. re: brwencino

                    My point is that that is just how the world works.

                    People who are surprised are either naive, or choose to be so.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Sad but true. It's a good thing to keep in mind when interacting with people in a service industry.

                      "The commission found that the kitchen staff regularly worked over 10 hours each day without overtime pay, rest breaks or meal breaks" (from article)

                      That sounds about right- I used to work at a local pizzeria and this was par for the course. Not including, of course, the hours after-shift for breakdown and cleanup. And this was a company just looking to turn a profit selling slices of pizza, not $$ fish!

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    <<This is just part and parcel of the industry.>>

                    this is just part and parcel of EVERY industry.
                    that said, in almost every industry there are some people with character who are successful.

                    as a customer, i do make some attempt to identify which businesses are run in a principled fashion and try to direct my money to them.

                    obviously, i'm not going to be perfectly correct in every call.

                    from my own experience in the restaurant business, and from the experience of my roommates, i can say for sure that they are NOT all the same. there is a continuum.
                    some bosses treat their employees better than others.

                    with all other things being equal, i try to identify and favor the "good boss" places.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      If, as you say, it is on a continuum, then where do you draw the line?

                      Is it ok to patronize a restaurant where the boss only deprives their workers of overtime pay on Tuesdays? Or, is it ok to go to a place if the boss deprives the workers of overtime pay on every Tue and Thu but provides a nice fat holiday bonus?

                      Obviously, I'm being a bit facetious here, but I think you see my point.

                      If it is indeed a continuum, then by implication you will have to draw the line of demarcation between what's a "good boss" place and what's not. And by definition, that line drawing will be arbitrary.

                      This is sort of like those vegetarians that only eat things without legs, and you say, well, what about crabs? And they say, well, those aren't legs, those are claws. Huh.

                      If one wanted to be really principled about it, I suppose the thing to do is never patronize any place that violates any type of labor or wage/hour laws. Otherwise, a person is just being a convenient moralist, if not a selective one.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        You can always tell the restaurants that follow all the rules and regulations to the letter and without exception. They're the ones that are out of business, sooner rather than later...

                        1. re: Servorg

                          actually, my first hand experience is contrary to yours, servorg.

                          that is why i don't subscribe to the oft repeated but not factual assertions that you made in the above post.

                          dick has had the same three successful restaurants for almost 40 years now. they look the same as they did about 40 years ago. their employees are still treated more than fairly (i.e. much better than the minimum required by law). the business model is exactly the same as it was then.
                          the omelet house that i worked at in sacramento before i went to work for the State of California was still in business using the same business model for about thirty years (that i knew about) after i left them.
                          after i moved to connecticut i used to call on prospects in sacramento and always went back there for a guacamole omelet before leaving town.
                          the kind owner of the coffee house that i used to frequent (daily for about a decade) kept it going until his acting career and the modeling career of his wife brought in too much money and took too much time for them to care enough about the coffee house to want to take on another long term lease.

                          and i can go on and on.

                          maybe the every single one of the restaurants you frequent can't seem to make ends meet (or generate enough profits for the owners) without breaking the rules, but that is far from universal.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          if i've heard of any violation of any type of labor or wage/hour laws, i'm OUT and all recommendations that might have been made or would be made by me are out as well.

                          i do intentionally try to keep abreast of such things (i.e. i'm not sitting in my closet playing world of warcraft hoping that such news might parachute through my roof to land on my lap).

                          i don't care if the complaint is perfectly proven beyond all doubt.
                          this is one of my prerogatives as a customer.
                          (this is not a death sentence case.)
                          i'm sure the restaurants will be able to find other customers that don't give a fig about issues that are important to me.
                          those other customers can provide the money the restaurant owner needs to survive.

                          truly, in every business there are some bad bosses and some bad employees.
                          i purposely do my best to avoid giving MY money to bad restaurant bosses.

                          1. re: westsidegal


                            Knock yourself out. And those are only the ones that are reported *and* adjudicated.

                            By the way, just out of curiosity does this ethos of yours apply only to restaurants, or all businesses?

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              for the purposes of the LA board, let's keep the discussion to restaurants.

                              if you want to take it to the Not About Food board, we can have a more far-ranging discussion.

                              keep in mind though, that most of my discretionary income IS spent on RESTAURANT meals. (restaurants are my addiction. to me, even toast tastes better in a restaurant). i may never see Paris, but i will eat out at least once a day.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Then I hope that you lead nothing but a long, peaceful and principled life. Oh, and a delicious one as well.


                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  same to you!
                                  may our paths cross in a restaurant or two.

                                2. re: westsidegal

                                  "I may never seen Paris, but I will eat out at least once a day"

                                  Somehow this sentiment on a divergent note applies to me too.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      You should really skip a few weeks of meals in LA in order to have a weekend of meals in Paris. :-)

                        3. The most expensive restaurant around can't do the right thing here. The richest people whooping it up in the midst of suffering and injustice. Nothing like a little extra oppression with your toro. I've always dreamed about having the opportunity to eat at such an elite place like this...well, cross that off my bucket list. I hope they go out of business like Hump.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: jessejames

                            Well said! It's simply inexcusable & very disappointing for a restaurant that caters to such a wealthy crowd.

                            1. re: jessejames

                              although the Hump has closed, aren't the owners of Typhoon the same as the owners of the now closed Hump?
                              if so, they just closed the Hump and are still doing business as Typhoon.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                No endangered insects on the Typhoon menu.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  that be true,
                                  but if the owners are, in fact, the same,
                                  i will refrain.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    I do have to try those non-endangered insects right about now.

                                    it does sound to be really good.

                                    on an off note, or rather another digression:

                                    Who has tried the insects, and lived to tell the tale ???


                            2. I am glad to see the Chowhound response. It is reaffirming to KNOW that even though we Hounds spend most of our waking hours searching for and enjoying the best toro, we are not blind to such injustice. It's not about getting caught; it's about how we treat others. Wrong is wrong!