Monday, January 09, 2006

Buffet in the News

One of the best Chinese buffets on Long Island, NY is in the news. East Buffet is a large Chinese, fancy buffet in the town of Huntington, NY. Their employees are walking a picket line around the restaurant on a major Long Island highway (Route 110) to protest the restaurants practice of paying way below minimum wage and establishing a no tips policy. When I have been there, there was no mention of no tipping. Apparently, the management is collecting the tips that are being left and keeping them. The price of dinner at this restaurant is high and tips are significant. News reports state that some workers are paid $1.00 per hour and work 68 hours in a week. Charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board. The restaurant owners have been ordered to appear at the end of February. The manager at the restaurant refused to talk with reporters.

A later print report stated that the restaurant claims that employees earn upwards of over $10 per hour. The restaurant states that they have placed a 12% gratuity on all checks and that is divided amongst servers. They also say that if a customer leaves an additional tip on the tip the server is free to take it. (Of course, I wonder, since I have never seen any mention of an imposed gratuitiy on the check - nor seen it added there - perhaps diners are leaving tips on the table because no one knows of this 12% add on.) The servers state that they get nothing of the tips or any added gratuity, and they are paid below minimum wage. The story continues on and the workers are still walking a picket line. The restaurant is open -who is working?

I have not reviewed East yet. I was last there in August '05 and do not go there often for two reasons - one is the price which is near $20 on week nights and more on weekends. The other reason is that the restaurant closes at 9:00 pm and they mean it. There is always a long wait - so you may arrive at 6:30 and not get in until 7:30 and you have a sense of rush to finish by 9, so it does not matter if you get there early - unless you want to get to the restaurant in the afternoon to eat dinner at dinner time. We save this restaurant for special occasions - like anniversaries and birthdays. The food is very good and there is always a crowd. The diners are mostly Oriental and the menu is a mix of Oriental dishes and a few Italian thrown in. Many of the Oriental dishes are unusual and authentic - as opposed to American Chinese cooking. At some point, if they resolve their troubles I will get back there and write about. It really is good.

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