These days, Wilson Trang works as an account manager for a health care system in Washington state. It’s been so long since his five-month stint working at Marina District restaurant Bobo’s Steakhouse and the now-closed Bobo’s Burger Bar in 2016, he’d almost forgotten about the time. In his words, it wasn’t the most pleasant place to work; he recalls lots of fighting between owners and workers. “I was happy to get out of there,” Trang says.
Trang doesn’t remember exactly when he was contacted — it was sometime in 2020, he says — by attorneys about the job, but he does recall them asking him to submit testimony about his experience working at the restaurant. Then, on an afternoon in February 2023, Wilson opened his mailbox to find a check, part of a settlement that resulted from a class action lawsuit filed against both restaurants. Back in 2020, Wilson joined the lawsuit along with other former staff who alleged the owners committed wage theft.
On November 16, 2022, a San Francisco court ordered the Bobo’s Steakhouse and Bobo’s Burger Bar, owned by Andrea Froncillo, to pay a $200,000 settlement to a number of former employees. The money will be dispersed to former staff including Trang through November 2023.
The main plaintiffs listed in the complaint are Khalid Lahlou and Divina Linares, though all non-exempt hourly employees who worked at Bobo’s Steakhouse or Bobo’s Burger Bar from January 10, 2016, to July 19, 2022, will receive varying amounts of money from a $200,000 pot.
The plaintiffs’ legal representatives, Nicholas A. Carlin and Brian S. Conlon said in a written statement that they hope this case and others like it serve as a reminder to California restaurateurs to treat their workers fairly. Bobo’s Steakhouse did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
In a declaration to the court, Lahlou, brother of notable San Francisco chef Mourad Lahlou, recounted working as a server at Bobo’s Steakhouse. He alleged he was rarely given a 10-minute rest break and was “frequently not provided a 30-minute meal period within the first five hours” of his shifts. He claims the scheduling and staffing at Bobo’s made it impossible for him and his coworkers to take their meal breaks, which are protected under the California Labor Code and by Industrial Wage Codes, the same sets of labor stipulations that guarantee minimum wages. Divina Linares, who also worked at Bobo’s Steakhouse as a hostess and at Bobo’s Burger Bar as a cocktail waitress, repeated the claims made by Lahlou in her own declaration.
The case was settled on October 25, 2022, and the restaurant did not admit fault. On November 16, 2022, Judge Richard B. Ulmer Jr. approved the settlement proposed by Lahlou, Linares, and the other staff.
Bobo’s Steakhouse opened in 2003 and is known for indulgent surf and turf dishes. The restaurant, which is located at 1450 Lombard Street, remains open, though Bobo’s Burger Bar, which was located nearby at 1434 Lombard Street, has been closed since early 2020.