Le Bec-Fin Stiffs Employees (At Least For Now)

Imagine your boss tells you to take a couple of weeks off, paid. You do, of course. Maybe you hit the beach. Maybe you head to New York for a few days. Maybe you just sit there in your apartment, catching up on Breaking Bad, while draining a box of wine. You get back to work, well rested, and pick up your paycheck. Only something isn’t right.

That’s just what happened at Le Bec-Fin the other day. After returning from vacation, during which Le Bec underwent renovations, those employees entitled to paid vacation realized their checks were short and that they weren’t, in fact, compensated for what was supposed to be paid vacation time. “If I had known I wasn’t going to get all my money,” says one steaming staffer, “I would have just bought a bunch of TV dinners and stayed home the whole time.”

According to the employee, an HR representative sat down with the staff on Tuesday night and told them, “If we pay you, we’ll have to close the restaurant down immediately.” They were also told that they might see the money in September, says the employee.

“Bullshit!” insists Perrier. “This is bullshit, and I am not in the fucking mood! We’re not going to pay people when the restaurant has been closed for days. We cannot pay!” He refused to elaborate but referred me to his HR/payroll manager, Cathy Aguilera. “The restaurant was closed, and we had every intention of paying the employees — the ones who are eligible for vacation time — we were going to pay them,” says Aguilera, apologetically. “But we weren’t able to.”

In reference to the employees being told that they wouldn’t be paid until September, Aguilera says, “Clearly there are some angry employees out there, but it seems they are exaggerating. We told them that it would be at the latest September.”

I’m sure that PGW and AT&T will gladly wait until September to get paid, too.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/soccerandpizza Joe

    Happy Bastille Day!

  • Dave

    Well played, Joe.

  • pj

    how can anyone tolerate working there?

  • Josh Boyette

    Seems like it’s a violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law. Low blow like that — I’d sue them. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=553525&mode=2

    Josh Boyette

  • jore andre

    Their credit is sooo bad they can’ can’t get a short term loan to make payroll? George is right up there with DSK as a good reason for hating the French.

  • Steve

    I worked for this man, he is scum. This doesn’t surprise me.

  • Buck

    I hope they fixed the Air Conditioner. It was a hot box in there on Monday night!

  • Lafayette

    Georges is a little short clown and hopefully he will stay closed.

  • Jesse Livermore

    Let them eat cake.

  • xlbf staffer

    I also used to work there. That man needs to shut ‘er down and SIT DOWN! Just please stop. Perrier should have retired at least 10 years ago. Everyone knows it’s best to quit when you’re still on top. Unfortunately, he continues to torture these poor people. Take it from me. I’ve been there. GET OUT NOW!! You will quickly realize it’s the best decision you ever made. File for unemployment. They can’t fight it even if they tried. You’re not quitting. If an employer doesn’t pay you, then you assume you’re let go. I feel your pain, but you’ll be in a much better place as soon as you get zee hell out of zees place!!

  • LREC

    I have worked in the hospitality industry (or at least some form of it) for over ten years. In general it has been my experience that this industry typically lacks proper HR practices and often times employees are treated far worse than the story in this article. Those who commented on this article are quick to judge, but not one person has stepped back to even acknowledge the fact that Georges Perrier actually employs an HR Manager who clearly is a strong adocate for the staff. Chef Perrier may be challenging to work for, but every day another article surfaces regarding yet another successful chef who was trained or worked under him at some point in their career. Chef Perrier has always supported his staff, whether front or back of the house, many of whom have worked for him 10 plus years. He expects a lot of his staff but no more than he expects from himself and this is to be respected and admired. Most of us only wish we had the same passion and dedication to something in life that he has to the hospitality industry.

  • LBF EMP

    Full disclosure, I am a current LBF employee.

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, this entire situation has been blown entirely out of proportion. Had the disgruntled employee gone to HR or to management with their problem rather than air their grievances in a public forum the whole thing could have been resolved without backbiting or trial by public opinion. I’d like everyone reading this to perform an exercise. Close your eyes and think back to every boss you’ve every had. Now count how many of those bosses every treated you unfairly at one time or another. It’s undeniable that Georges Perrier handled the whole situation undiplomatically, but Le Bec hasn’t been open for 41 years because the chef is the nicest man to work for in Philadelphia.

    When he called the staff to a meeting on Tuesday the message was perfectly clear: We weren’t going to be paid NOW. The restaurant had been closed for 10 days and in addition to not gaining any revenue had been undergoing expensive renovations. Again, the message was clear, when there was liquid capital, the staff would be paid. Someone, apparently, wasn’t clear about the message, and rather than bringing it to the attention of someone who could help, decided to take an internal situation and hang it out for everyone in Philadelphia to pass judgement on.

    I don’t want to be misunderstood, the owner of Le Bec is not free from blame here. With a softer touch this could have been controlled and resolved before anyone had time to complain, but I’ve worked for Chef Perrier long enough to know that a soft touch is not what to expect from him. Working for him is a challenge, because he demands that the people who work for him be the best at what they do. His standards are set by the demands of the guests who come to his restaurant, which he alone has been responsible for for over 4 decades, and expect the best in both food and service. Working at the restaurant is a challenge, as it should be, but I finish each shift with the knowledge that if I can maintain the level of excellence that people have come to expect from a restaurant with our reputation then I am helping set the bar in the industry. Anyone who doesn’t feel that way doesn’t belong there for the simple reason that you can’t maintain that level if you don’t care.
    Whoever dragged this into the public space did so for revenge. I know this because there were other avenues open to them, avenues that would have gotten them paid and would not have resulted in uproar, avenues which they did not take. Faulted as the owner of Le Bec Fin may be the greater fault lies with the person who spitefully misrepresented him to the public for their own person gratification.
    And for those of you keeping score at home, we’ve all been paid. I don’t know about anyone else’s check but for me it wasn’t worth this.

  • LBF Somm

    Wow!! Welcome to the circus ladies and gentlemen.

    I too am currently employed at Le Bec Fin and intend to stay that way for as long as they will have me. Yes… it’s true… it stung coming back from vacation to a lack of pay, and yes it was poorly explained as to why we were not paid and more importantly when we would be paid… BUT Chef Perrier, while some of his ex (and current for that matter) employees might not always see him in the kindest of light, has always done what was best for his restaurant in the end. And he knows that what is best for his restaurant is supporting his employees. I don’t know about you, but I have never had a boss tell me that if I needed to borrow money, at any time not just because of a lack of pay, to go see our HR director and she would take care of it.

    I know that everyone likes to make chef out to be this evil man who delights in watching his tortured staff scamper at his screams, it’s only half true. If you understand anything about this business (hospitality) you understand that we are always on stage. Take a page right out of Disneyland’s employee manual folks. Chef has been playing the evil chef that the public has made him out to be for so long he gets lost in it sometimes. He is crass, he is short tempered, he is rude, he is all of the things that you call him… that you want him to be… but he is also one of the most passionate people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. And I say with, not for, with intention. He is always there, and I’m sure in all of his other restaurants too, making sure we are holding up his (your) standards of service and food. I liken him to an artist, passionate and tortured by what drives him, which is ultimately pleasing people.

    If who ever in our restaurant had taken the time to get to know why chef is the way he is prior to writing this letter, they might have thought more thoroughly before “airing our dirty laundry” as chef put it.

    He addressed us yesterday, hurt by this very letter. Hurt not because he was embarassed by it, but hurt because his own staff would think him a theif. There was no wrong doing in his mind because the thought of not paying us never occured to him.

    I too am hurt. It was unfair of this employee to engage the public in such a way that would jeopordize my career. It has taken less scandalous things to bring down restaurants in the past. How selfish of you to try to take my future away. My whole life I have worked to work here, I remember when I chose to enter this field every restaurant I went to was judged on a scale of 0 to Le Bec Fin. And now I wake up everyday and walk through the doors, still in disbelief that I do. How jaded you must be to not see how lucky you are. It is now obvious to me the lack of passion that you must have, the lack of drive and desire to be the best at what you do, whether you like what you do or not. It must be terribly sad to wake up everyday and not love what you do… so leave. You don’t have it in you.

    If you can’t stand the heat…

    Chef won’t change and if you knew anything about him before you started working here you would have known that. Go work at Applebees… I’m sure their management staff will be happy to treat you as politically correct as your heart desires. I’m here. I’m staying. Not just because working here will make me a better hospitality professional but because I truly love it.

    Cue the circus music folks, it’s almost service (show) time.

  • tk

    Despite all the shills covering Perrier’s ass even with “full disclosure” the point is relatively simple.Perrier did not want to pay because the restaurant had been closed and had no revenue.The problem is that logic is complete bullshit.Does anyone believe that a restaurant of that caliber does not have money in its bank account.They even said they would pay them at the latest september.It is just more of the duplicitous MO of the same restaurant that announced it’s closing knowing fully well it would not close to get people to rush in.The place has no class.Just pay your employees already and stop playing silly games.

  • Moose

    I currently work at Le Bec fin. Yes situation could have been handled differently but it was not. crying to the public doesn’t pay bills, having a job still does. Line in the sand are you with us or against us. Personally i am with us. And does anyone who commented negatively work with a 40 year old legacy behind them? MOOSE

  • pj

    to LBF somm: you cannot liken him to an artist simply because people rely on food for survivial. take food from the the market and do what you want with it but it is and always will be fuel. no matter how you cook it food will always end up in a mess in our stomachs. get over yourself. people who work at applebees pay their bills by serving people food and drinks just as you do. Keep on making excuses for the boss that exploits you and pat yourself on the back for being a fine dinning waiter.

  • Fuzzybunny

    Pj….you clearly have no idea of what you’re talking about. Food is art in certain applications. You want fuel? Have a smoothie, dude.

  • teamLBF

    Working with chef perrier and the great foh/boh team as I have the opportunity to do everyday at le bec is more than enough compensation for me. If your place of work hasn’t had the reputation of being the best in its respected field, you shouldn’t even comment on this matter. To whomever it was that thought it was a great idea to cry to the media, I hope it was worth it for you. By doing so you were obviously only thinking of yourselves and not our staff/ restaurant. You DO NOT deserve to be apart of our team. You should be thankful for the opportunity, let alone a check. All of us have bills to pay, not one of us is rich, but, the majority of us know that we are not there for just money, its a lot deeper than that. I love my job, I love what I do everyday, and not everyone can say that. To me the feeling alone is worth it. Chances are we may never find out who our leak was, and it doesnt even matter at this point, because our dirty laundry is done but you should do us all a favor and go be apart of somewhere that closer fits you. What you may be looking for is a “cafeteria” of some sort. What ever you do though, just know that YOU DO NOT DESERVE the right to be apart of our team.

  • Happy Worker12

    As a current worker at LBF, I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this incredible restaurant. The rennovations are spectacular and I’m very excited to see the bar’s rennovations. As Perrier explained to the staff, the money was on its way from New York to pay the employees, so clearly this was a good reason to bitch about not being paid immediately, right? Wrong. After he spent huge amounts of money on a new bar and kitchen, this is foolish to be angry at a man who’s done so much for the food service industry and the restaurant world in PHiladelphia

  • knb

    PJ you are a compleat moran

  • Rediculous

    This was a family affair that has unfortunately been blown far out of it’s intended proportion. I ask you, previous commentors, current and future readers, staff, and John Q Public to just shut up. Shut up. Everyone. I’m currently to blame for even commenting on this forum myself. Let us handle this on our own.

    Paid or not, neither Chef Perrier NOR the staff deserve any of this. Return to your lives and let it go.

    Thank you.

  • EZTEAMLBF1

    I AM NOT A PERSON OF MANY WORDS BUT I HAVE TO SAY!! THIS WHOLE ARTICLE MAKES THE SITUATION SEEM WAY WORSE THAN IT WAS.ONE CERTAIN INDIVIDUAL DID NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON,AND INSTEAD OF TAKING IT UP WITH OUR HR DEPT.HE OR SHE WANTED TO MAKE THE ORGANIZATION LOOK BAD BY CRYING TO THE MEDIA..FOR ANYONE WHO STILL DOESN’T KNOW “YES” WE’VE BEEN PAID!!I PERSONALY WOULD’VE WAITED MY CHECK WASN’T WORTH THE BULLSHIT!SO LET’S NOT TARNISH THE NAME “LE BEC FIN”!!

  • chuck e.

    It’s too bad a certain high profile Center City developer hasn’t made his feelings known about Chef Perrier.
    Le Chef would be dangling from Brian Roberts’ drawstrings from the roof top of that Fugly Tower with some other notable Demonrats.

  • jim

    Looks like it’s time for them to “eat their peas”.

  • jim

    Georges made Philadelphia dining period. Along with the Frog, The Garden, Harry’s, The Commissary, Jimmie Milan’s and The Happy Rooster. The place was a ghost town and LBF
    was the STAR of the SHOW. It’s nice to be able to throw stones at him. Is he tough and demanding sure. Is he perfect No. But his food, his staff and service has always been and Im sure will continue to be the Best of the Best.

  • Interested LBF guest

    to all the Le Bec Fin defenders, I agree. I am an out-of-towner who loves to visit there once I land in town. I have heard that the bar and upstairs are being remodeled with new artwork? does anyone know of the art itself? thank you & God bless chef for his artistic talents.

  • NonoNannette

    Well said! I agree with all you said. I worked with Pernot, Clark and Chin to name a few and it was and as it should be an honor and experience that I’ll never forget and look back on with admiration. I worked in the industry nearly 20 years and never had or expected to get paid for time off. A day off means no pay in that industry. There is no entitlement.