An epidemic of unpaid wages in Minneapolis' most food-friendly neighborhood was unearthed Wednesday, as federal investigators announced findings of a widespread investigation against restaurants on Nicollet Avenue in south Minneapolis.
Citing overtime and minimum wage violations, the U.S. Department of Labor determined 15 Eat Street businesses owed a total of $367,000-some in back pay to 162 current or former employees.
Affected businesses (the department's announcement falls short of naming all 15) include some of the neighborhood's most popular. Among them: Eat Street Social, Pancho Villa, Rainbow Chinese, Black Sheep Pizza, El Nuevo Mariachi, and Salsa a la Salsa, which was tagged for violations at both its Eat Street and Midtown Global Market locations.
Two grocery stores, Marissa's Supermarket & Bakery and Los Maizales, were also named in Wednesday's round-up.
According to the release, the federal agency conducted 30 "educational events" for the local restuarant industry in 2018 alone.
The announcement doesn't get into details of which businesses were hit for minimum wage problems and which failed to pay overtime, though one is blaming its violations on mere confusion.
Black Sheep Pizza tells Bring Me the News it had employees shuttling among its four locations for different shifts, and, because owners thought of those as "separate work places," they weren't accounting for those hours as counting toward overtime.
Owners Colleen Doran and Jordan Smith say they've already paid up with any employees affected, and said the overtime foul-up was their only violation.
"Black Sheep Pizza, Eat Street or any of our three locations, has no current minimum wage violations, nor have we ever," they said.
Update, 9/27: An earlier version of this story ran with an interior photo of Black Sheep in which Bad Waitress' neon was visible across the street, but they're not one of the restaurants failing to pay overtime! We've updated the lead image accordingly.