Lynn’s is not the only place making their servers tip out

Louisvillians, foodies from far and wide, and visitors that come back often to become “out of town regulars” are enraged and confused after one of Louisville’s most popular and beloved restaurants has closed it’s doors for good. Lynn’s Paradise Cafe abruptly closed it’s doors at the beginning of the year and reports of wrong doing by the restaurant’s owner and management team have been spilling out ever since.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe was one of a kind, never to be matched by any other restaurant in or out of town. Everything from the colorful decor to the kitschy art work and fun atmosphere made Lynn’s a local favorite and on every out-of-towner’s list of places to go. Not only were people visiting Louisville making sure they went to Lynn’s, but in some cases, visitors were visiting Louisville just for Lynn’s. Throughout the 22 years of the Cafe’s life, it appeared on multiple television shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and a slew of Food Network shows. Lynn’s has been written up in the best publications such as the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and has appeared in almost all the high end cooking magazines. At the beginning of the year, and for the past 22 years, from the outside looking in business was booming, so why the sudden closure?

The closure of Lynn’s is muddy. Even for a girl who spent eight years of her life as a server, it doesn’t all seem to add up. Lynn Winter, owner of Lynn’s decided to close the doors after allegations that the business was violating state labor laws. Servers were complaining that they were being forced to bring in their own money to tip out other employees at the end of their shift. Once a Lynn’s server was allegedly fired for not complying with the “tip out” rule and became outspoken against the restaurant, Winter decided to shut the business down for good. While this is not an uncommon procedure, it is illegal and it cannot be forced upon any employee.

This practice of illegal tipping out procedure is a common practice for many restaurants in town. Servers know that at the end of the night nearly 30% of their tips will be given away to the dishwasher, host, busser, and bartender. It is an unfair practice, but most servers suck it up and go with the flow. There have been rare cases in the past, however, where servers have spoken out against this practice. April of last year, Ron Lieberman picketed outside of Ramsi’s Cafe on the World after quitting his job as a server because he refused to tip out the 30% at the end of his shift. Servers make $2.19 an hour and Lieberman called the practice of forced tipping out “a system of organized slavery.”

The “tipping out” fiasco is indeed a big deal, but no reason to close a successful 22-year business. Ramsis’s didn't have to shut down in the case of Lieberman. If there are more skeletons in Lynn’s closet I'm sure it will only take some time for Louisville’s fine investigators to uncover them.

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