We are one week out from the official opening of London NYC, Gordon Ramsay's $3 million investment in himself at the also-new London NYC hotel (formerly the Rihga). At first blush, it appears that all systems are a go for Gordon. He's just gotten the nice Independent preview, in which he acknowledges that his caustic routine may not fly stateside but that he's working on it. Early eGullet reports are promising too. But, there is the small matter of an email that arrived at Eater just a little while ago:
There's a potentially disastrous situation unfolding at Gordon Ramsay at the London. Apparently Local 6 has outmaneuvered the Ramsay higher ups. The non-union service staff (captains, maitre'ds, sommeliers, the ones working 14-15 hour shifts) have been entirely cut out of the tip pool. The union employees (backwaiters and waiters, the ones working an 8-hour shift each day) are getting ALL THE TIPS THAT THE RESTAURANT MAKES. So, a backwaiter will be making roughly 40-50% more than his managerial supervisor! Many of the non-union staff have contemplated leaving, if not already out the door. This is all happening as the Ramsay operation is set to open Nov. 16, and the soft opening starts tomorrow.There's more.
Someone at London headquarters underestimated Local 6. who knows, though, if Ramsay himself knew about this and gave it the ok.We, of course, attach all the usual disclaimers to this information, such as that its provenance is unknown. But this does, indeed, sound dicey, given that we're one week out.
Some of those non-union staff can't walk - they're Brits who have VISAs. These staffers were under the assumption they would be sharing the tips, the way it is in every restaurant. They want to leave, but can't. There's nowhere for them to go except back to Britain to find other work. They are in a situation now where they can't pay rent, or barely feed themselves. This makes Per Se (which as you know had a different controversy re service charges) look like Paradise.
Does anyone else care to add anything here?
· Ramsay turns nice guy in bid to win over New Yorkers [Independent]
· Gordon Ramsay at the London [eGullet]
UPDATE 1: Via email, "rumors of london nyc troubes are 100% true."
UPDATE 2: "I have something to add: All those Brits with work visas who feel slighted or perplexed about what to do should JOIN THE UNION. This isn't rocket science." http://www.heardny.org/local6current.htm
Photo courtesy of Newyorkology.