A little over a year and a half ago, Jessica Biel opened up a fancy restaurant for wealthy children in Los Angeles called Au Fudge. Things seemed to be going well for Jessica’s little side project until this week. According to The Blast, Jessica and her fellow Au Fudge business partners just received a lawsuit from nine former employees accusing Jessica and Co. of keeping thousands of dollars worth of tips from private events. I get the feeling Jessica screamed something a whole lot less kid friendly than “au fudge” when she saw that lawsuit.
The employees claim that most of the money made at Au Fudge was from “buyouts” (aka when a restaurant closes for a party) and private events. Au Fudge reportedly wcharged an automatic gratuity of 22% to all private event bills. The Blast has an example of one bill in which the client was charged $60,325 plus an additional $13,271.50 gratuity. The former restaurant server in me choked on my coffee when I saw that slinging chicken nuggets to knee-highs could bring in more than $13,000 in tips. But those servers claim they never saw a single penny from huge private party paydays.
A deposition in this case was given by Alexandra Desage, a former Director of Events at Au Fudge (she’s not a plaintiff in the lawsuit). She claims that not one customer tipped beyond the automatic 22% gratuity, because they believed all 22% was going directly to the employees. When Alexandra complained to one of Jessica’s co-owners, Jon Rollo, that keeping tips was against the law, he reportedly told her “not to worry about it” and suggested she didn’t understand how gratuity worked. Another former employee gave a deposition claiming a very similar reaction when they questioned where the tips went.
The nine former employees suing Au Fudge want money: $430,100 in alleged missing tips, $31,549 in missed rest breaks (they claim Au Fudge denied them breaks), and $1 million in damages. Sources tell The Blast that Au Fudge disagrees with the allegations of tip thievery, and this is all just an issue between former employees and a former manager.
But I think I can understand why Au Fudge might have kept their tips. There’s no doubt a lot of expensive overhead costs involved in running a restaurant for wealthy children. Porcelain plates, crystal sippy cups, literal silver spoons. And, honestly, don’t the children of the rich truly deserve a special restaurant of their own? Without Au Fudge, where are wealthy parents of Los Angeles supposed to take their kids? Chuck E. Cheese? Unless Chuck opens a special members-only supper club called Charles. E Camembert, that ain’t happening.