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Former Server Says Lynn's Not Quite Paradise UPDATE

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Lynn's Paradise Cafe allegedly fired a waitress yesterday for "not being able to bring in $100 cash for my shift" Wednesday. Rather than fume privately and update her resume, however, Leila DiFazio shared her story on WLKY's Facebook page, claiming the new policy was unrealistic and unfair. So far her post has received 67 comments, most of which are sympathetic.

[UPDATE Jan. 12, 10:48 a.m. Lynn's Paradise Cafe has closed.]

DiFazio also wrote, "I also have some information on other wrong-doings of theirs." In response to a Facebook message asking for the details, DiFazio said she forwarded the inquiry on to "some of the guys who worked in the BOH [back of the house—kitchen] at Lynn's and have all the goods for you. They know the facts/dirty little secrets you'll be interested in hearing. I hope you hear from them soon!" Us too!

While it's not the first time a former Lynn's employee has claimed her termination was ridiculous, the Internets is full of disgruntled restaurant employees. A voice mail message was left with Patty Schnatter, Lynn's CIO and COO, at 11:28 a.m. asking for her side of the story. This story will be updated should she respond.

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.: Lynn Winter, Lynn's owner called. While she said it was illegal, and rightfully so, for her to talk about a specific employee, she did confirm the policy change. "Schnatter sat down with every single person before the last week," Winter said, and explained it. "She said, 'I'm open, you need to talk to me about this.' And we had signs posted."

Winter explained the requirement of waitstaff to carry $100 was to ensure they have "enough cash on hand to be able to tip the secondarily tipped people [buses, bartenders, foodrunners and expos] because I didn't want them to say 'I have no cash, I can't tip you today.'"

"What I've been hearing from them is that they were very very worried that they were going to get stiffed by the waitstaff because they wouldn't have any cash at the end of the day because they got so many credit card tips," Winter said. Winter added that she verified that other local restaurants have similar requirements of their waitstaffs before she made the change, although she wouldn't name them as she didn't want to share another local business's practices. Nationally, she said Bob Evans has a similar requirement.

This new requirement coincided with a change in Lynn's payroll practices. "Before Obamacare goes in next year, I tried to enact a policy that would safeguard the servers and allow them to pay their taxes as they went along, if they wanted to, or allow them to pay it all in April, if they wanted to, as they did before," Winter said.

"I tried to make a decision for the majority of the staff that would create a healthy atmosphere for them to go through the next years," Winter said. "That's all I've done—I've tried to enact a situation in an uncertain world. We don't know the policies of Obamacare."

DiFazio acknowledged the memos, but disagreed with Winter about meetings taking place:

We were given memos for the payroll change, which meant our credit cards tips would be going on checks as opposed to coming home with us nightly. In the memo it did not state anything about the $100 bank. At that point they did discuss the payroll change but did NOT bring up the new policy regarding the hundred dollar bank.... A couple days later, they posted memos around the restaurant stating the new policy for the required $100 bank, and that if we had questions or concerns to contact Patty. Everyone was against the new policy but afraid to question it because of all of the previous rash terminations of the past. So no one spoke up until the day of the policy change...and even then it was only myself and another girl who called Patty about it. As far as if Patty or someone else actually met with me about it, no. The memo suggested we contact her with questions, but she never personally sat down with me and talked about it.

"This is a rule you can't waffle on. The minute you start waffling, where's the exception?" Winter said, adding that no one expressed any problem with it to Schnatter. "And we gave them as much time as possible to collect that money."

"Even though they may not see it," Winter said of her staff, "I know the business well enough to have walked in the shoes of every person there. This kind of protest against us ironically hurts every single person at Lynn's. They can make soundbytes that I can't defend. Customers don't come in, and I'll have to cut back. Not only does it hurt me, it hurts the 85 people who work for me."

Here's DiFazio's Facebook original post in its entirety:

I am writing to see if you're interested in covering a story involving a well-known Louisville restaurant and the truth behind the facade...
Yesterday I was terminated from Lynn's Paradise Cafe for not being able to bring in $100 cash for my shift. It is a new policy that started 1/2/13, stating that all food servers are required to carry $100 cash for each shift to use to tip out support staff (bussers and food runners). First of all, the new policy is absolutely unrealistic. Anyone who can afford to have one hundred dollars cash on them at any given time probably doesn't need to work as a server. Secondly, my manager who terminated me claimed that we were already required to bring in $50 cash everyday, which is untrue and was never a policy that was implemented in the 11 months that I was employed there, nor is it even in the employee handbook...I think that is something very important I would have remembered, don't you?! Also, had this been true, I would have been terminated a long time ago, seeing as having $50 at any given time is still unrealistic for me because I am single mother of a 2 1/2 year old boy...I stay home during the day while his father works and work part time at night. All of my funds go to paying necessary bills and buying groceries to feed my child.

It's especially heartbreaking to me because I am also expecting another child, due in late August. Some other mentionables are that I had never been wrote up or reprimanded for any faults during the duration of my employment with Lynn's Paradise Cafe. I was one of their best employees and very much respected, I thought...until yesterday when after being sent home for not having the hundred dollar bank, I called our main manager, Patty Schnatter to see if we would work something out to where I could change positions to be a hostess seeing as I could not afford to be part of the new policy taking place. She denied me any leeway and said I was terminated for "breaking policy rule". No warnings, no second chances, just terminated then and there, over the phone.

Now, is it just me, or is this unjust? I know this situation has my (used to be) fellow co-workers terrified for their jobs. Truthfully, this is the worst of the worst. Lynn and Patty were already known for firing their employees for little to no reason, but this ones really takes the cake.

I also have some information on other wrong-doings of theirs, and would be happy to answer any questions or refer you to those who have more input to make this a HUGE eye-opener for the city of Louisville. Considering all of the positive publicity that Lynn Winter receives via her request (heck, she probably pays the news anchors for their time!), I think that this would really cause a ruckus in our city. Luckily, it's all true and fact based and myself and others would be more than happy to divulge their dirty little secrets. Or even just this new policy that has resulted in a pregnant woman (myself!) being terminated, essentially for being poor. Not only was it humiliating for me but also has left me little hope for humanity at all.

Please help me bring this situation in the light and possibly get some kind of answers as to why this is happening...from what Patty said, the new policy is in place so that their employees can have health insurance. To me, it sounds like a cop out for Lynn's personal tax purposes and truthfully they're taking advantage of their hardworking, dedicated staff. For the record, no one signed anything regarding this new policy. There were memos placed around the restaurant for two weeks before it took place and yes, we were allowed to talk to management about it, but no one would because of fear of losing their job. I am walking proof of losing my job because I questioned the new policy and could not adhere to it.
Please, please, PLEASE join me in making this right and/or exposing the madness within "Paradise". I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,
Leila DiFazio

Lynn's employees—current or former—feel free to weigh in in our comments section. And restaurant workers, is it common to expect wait staff to bring in $100?

[H/T Reddit]

[Photo: Facebook/Lynn's Paradise Cafe]

·Life in Paradise (p. 58) [Louisville Magazine]
·Lynn's Paradise Cafe holds annual New Year's Pajama Party [WAVE 3]

Lynn's Paradise Cafe

984 Barret Avenue, Louisville, KY 40204 502-583-3447 Visit Website

Lynn's Paradise Cafe

984 Barret Avenue Louisville, KY 40204