Former employee: Wage laws ‘had nothing to do with bankruptcy’ of Seattle restaurant chain

Jul 9, 2019, 1:08 PM | Updated: 1:51 pm
Seattle restaurant chain Henry's Tavern...
Henry's Tavern is one of a handful of locations run by Restaurants Unlimited. (Victor Chapa, Flickr Creative Commons)

A Seattle restaurant chain is claiming that “progressive wage laws” and increasing minimum wages led to a recent declaration of bankruptcy. According to one former employee, however, that may not be the case.

A recipe for a shortage of Seattle cooks

The company, Restaurants Unlimited, features numerous locations spread across Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Colorado, and Alaska. Minimum wages vary in each state, from $9.86 an hour in Minnesota, to $15 in Seattle for companies with more than 500 employees.

That being so, Chief Restructuring Officer David Bagley told The Seattle Times that “the company’s profitability has been significantly impacted by progressive wage laws along the Pacific coast that have increased the minimum wage.”

That’s a claim an anonymous former employee calls into question.

“Wage laws had nothing to do with the bankruptcy,” they told MyNorthwest. “The company is stretched across the country with varying wage costs — that couldn’t possibly be a significant factor.”

The employee contends that a handful of less successful locations were responsible for sinking Restaurants Unlimited, that manages the likes of Henry’s Tavern, Stanford’s, Palomino, and more.

Amato: Understaffed Seattle restaurants don’t tell the whole story

“The simple fact is that the company, as all large restaurant companies do, was unable to provide a consistent product and service,” they said. “Some restaurant soared, while others sank with concrete boots. The latter bloated company-wide costs and dragged the other brands down. Failure to recognize that in time is almost certainly what dragged the company under.”

According to the Times, the company was looking to sell itself as recently as 2016, later failing to refinance a debt load in the tens of millions. Court documents state that it will be operate during bankruptcy on the strength of a $10 million loan, with just $150,000 of cash on-hand.

Restaurants Unlimited currently has almost 1,900 part-time employees, 168 full-time restaurant staff, and 50 salaried workers at its Seattle headquarters.

Local News

Nicole Jennings

Rural Eastern Washington hospitals say no big losses in staffing post-vaccine mandate

Some of the rural Eastern Washington hospitals that were expected to have big losses after the vaccine mandate say things are going well.
8 hours ago
Climate Pledge Arena...
Associated Press

Climate Pledge Arena ready to get Kraken for hockey debut

The first event ever inside Climate Pledge Arena — whether it will be considered the official first event or not — was far from a soft opening.
1 day ago
Some of the located containers, captured by the US Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles helicopter....
KIRO 7 News Staff

Approximately 40 shipping containers adrift off Washington coast

Approximately 40 shipping containers were lost off a ship 43 miles west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to the United States Coast Guard.
1 day ago
Kathryn Altena

Gov. Inslee, Washington groups prepare to welcome Afghan refugees

In the coming months, 1,400 Afghan refugees are expected to pass through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport upon their arrival in Washington.
1 day ago
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski...
Nick Bowman

King County Councilmember accused of history of ‘verbally abusive’ behavior toward female staff

King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski is facing accusations detailing a history of verbally abusive behavior toward female staff members.
1 day ago
Microsoft campus, vaccine...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Racial harassment allegations at Microsoft campus construction site in Redmond

Racial harassment on the job — that’s what a Black construction employee says he was dealing with for months at the build site on Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Former employee: Wage laws ‘had nothing to do with bankruptcy’ of Seattle restaurant chain