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Beloved Grocery Chain Bi-Rite Hit with Lawsuit Over Alleged Unpaid Overtime

Former employees allege that Bi-Rite regularly underpaid them for overtime work and were not provided breaks during those shifts

The exterior of Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street in San Francisco. Bi-Rite
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

Workers filed a class action lawsuit against local San Francisco grocery chain Bi-Rite on January 3, accusing the store of rest break and wage statement violations, along with unpaid overtime, SFGATE reports. Led by a former employee at the chain’s Divisadero location, the lawsuit states that Bi-Rite “engaged in a pattern and practice of wage abuse against their hourly-paid and/or non-exempt employees.” Employees allegedly worked more than 40 hours a week but were not provided “proper” overtime pay, the outlet reports. Employees were also not given meal and rest breaks during those overtime shifts, the lawsuit goes on to state. The lawsuit also alleges the company had a policy that rounded employee time, leading to “systematically unpaid and/or underpaid” for their time worked. The plaintiffs want a trial by jury and seek all compensation owed.

Berkeley loses latest natural gas ban battle

The city of Berkeley approved a natural gas ban that took effect in 2020, the first of its kind in the nation, but it has since fought to keep it in place. The California Restaurant Association challenged the ban and it was ultimately struck down last year, but the city fought to appeal the decision. On Tuesday, January 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected Berkeley’s petition to re-hear the case, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Now, unless the Supreme Court decides to review the case, the initial ruling that the gas ban is illegal becomes final.

Fillmore District loses its Safeway

The Safeway at Webster Plaza is set to close after the grocery chain announced plans to sell the 3.68-acre property to Align Real Estate, which will install housing and retail space on the property, the San Francisco Standard reports. The store will shut down in early March, and it’s unclear if another grocery store is planned for the retail space within the upcoming development. A new Trader Joe’s located a half-mile away at 555 Fulton Street is expected to take up some of the slack for the Safeway closure when it opens in the coming months.

Infamous restaurateur opens new restaurant

Mission Local reports that Luisa’s Restaurant Wine Bar Since 1959 has finally opened — and will heretofore be referred to as simply “Luisa’s” in this report. The restaurant has been in the works since 2020, when restaurateur Luisa Hanson took over the former home of chef Daniel Patterson’s Aster at 1001 Guerrero Street. Hanson, now 94, has a larger-than-life reputation in the San Francisco restaurant world, having been the subject of more than 57 lawsuits as of 2007, filing for bankruptcy in 2009 with debts between $10 and $50 million, and having famously purchased beloved, 40-year-old Nob Hill pub John Barleycorn only to shut it down amid protests from locals. Luisa’s is now open daily for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.