The singing servers of Times Square tourist destination Ellen’s Stardust Diner won a labor victory this week — more than 30 fired employees have been offered their jobs back after a settlement between staff and the restaurant.
Longtime staff at the diner formed a union last year, saying that with new management, the business was no longer the safe haven for aspiring singers and actors that it once was. They also sued ownership for unpaid wages. Owner Ken Sturm then later accused staff of stealing from the restaurant in a lawsuit.
But this week, the restaurant at 1650 Broadway reached an agreement with union Stardust Family United and the National Labor Relations Board. Sturm offered jobs back to 31 employees who had been fired under circumstances that the union considered retaliatory. Thirteen of them decided to return, according to a statement from the union.
The diner also paid staffers back pay and agreed to mail notices to all staff — outlining that the restaurant could not threaten employees or discourage them from union activity, the union says.
Ellen’s Stardust Diner’s owners did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, the Times reports. In a statement to the Times, Sturm said: “Stardust has been a welcoming place in the heart of Times Square for employees, tourists and local patrons for over 30 years. We expect these 13 servers, who previously worked for Stardust, to fit in well into our supportive and inclusive work environment.”
Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where servers sing during service, has long been known as a place where artists can work as they audition for gigs. Staff have left for Broadway shows or things like “American Idol” and historically been allowed to return to their service jobs. It originally opened in 1987 and remains a popular tourist dining spot.