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Chinatown Stalwart Z & Y Restaurant to Pay $1.61M to Workers After Wage-Theft Allegations

Plus, there’s a new restaurant opening in downtown Oakland’s historic Tribune Tower and more intel

Z & Y Restaurant Z & Y Restaurant/Facebook
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

Welcome to a.m. Intel, your bite-sized roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

Famed Chinatown destination Z & Y Restaurant, known for its tongue-numbingly spicy Sichuan fare, will pay $1.61 million to 22 workers in a massive wage theft settlement, the San Francisco Chronicle reported first. The settlement covers “unpaid minimum wages, overtime, stolen tips, split shift premiums, paid sick leave amounts, and related penalties,” according to a news release from the Chinese Progressive Association and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, organizations that supported the workers in their claim. An additional settlement awards $70,000 to five workers for “retaliation they experienced after raising concerns around wage theft,” the release says.

The restaurant ”denied any wrongdoing” in the settlement and still has to handle another lawsuit involving tips and citations from the Labor Commissioner. That’s why Seth Weisburst, who’s representing Z & Y owners Jun Yuan “Michelle” Zhang and Li Jun Han, says the owners decided to settle rather than fight the accusations.

John Wang, who used to work at the restaurant, told the Chronicle he didn’t receive overtime pay, despite sometimes working 11 hour shifts, and was often unable to take breaks, despite them being required by law. Wang is one of a group of Z & Y restaurant staff — all of whom are Chinese or Taiwanese immigrants — who filed a complaint against the restaurant in 2018, per the Chron. The workers described an “exhausting [work] environment” and expressed fears of losing their jobs if they spoke up about the conditions. They’ve now agreed to a settlement that includes “nearly $600,000 in tips that the workers say the restaurant withheld from them.” In addition to the financial payout the workers also won concessions related to the work environment including workers’ rights trainings, bilingual training materials, and a transparent tip distribution policy. [San Francisco Chronicle]

  • Downtown Oakland’s historic Tribune Tower is getting a new lease on life thanks to Tribune, an American brasserie expected to open on Friday, August 27. The restaurant comes from the team behind Town Revival and will offer a menu of gussied up favorites like the Tribune chopped salad with baby squash and roquefort dressing and grilled branzino “amandine.” Peep the whole menu on the Tribune website.
The Tribune burger Adahila Cole
Rockfish amandine from Tribune Adahila Cole
The bar at Tribune restaurant, openings soon in Oakland Adahila Cole
Tribune will open in downtown Oakland’s historic Tribune Tower Adahila Cole
  • On Monday the Alcoholic Beverage Control announced plans for a liquor license lottery that could save would-be bar and restaurant owners hundreds of thousands of dollars, reports San Francisco Business Times. The agency will make 20 new licenses available in San Francisco and Napa — five Type 87 licenses in SF and 15 limited Type 47s in Napa — at the price of $15,835. For comparison’s sake, licenses can fetch upwards of $200,000 on the open market. [SF Business Times]
  • Ride along as SFGate explores the history of the Richmond’s “Little Russia” neighborhood, where Boris Fudym runs New World Market and Cinderella Bakery and Cafe, the Bay Area’s oldest Russian bakery, has been baking and frying piroshki since 1953. [SF Gate]
  • And finally, attention all goodest boys and girls of Silicon Valley: Hoodline brings word of a new boba shop that prides itself of being both dog-friendly and highly Instagrammable. Woof’s Bar in Santa Clara shakes milk and fruit tea with boba — but let’s be honest, you’re really going so you can snap a photo like this:

Update: August 17th, 2021, 1:08 p.m.: This story has been updated to reflect that the total payout to Z & Y restaurant workers is $1.61 million.

Z & Y Restaurant

655 Jackson Street, , CA 94133 (415) 981-8988 Visit Website