Why this hit S.F. restaurant added a controversial fee on top of tips
Profit-sharing, mental health support and more are under way at a refreshed Che Fico in San Francisco. Workers say they hope this is the future of the industry.
When Che Fico opened in San Francisco in 2018, it was an immediate hit. People waited as long as four hours to eat wood-fired pizza and handmade pasta in the gorgeous, second-floor restaurant overlooking Divisadero Street. In less than six months, Bon Appetit named Che Fico one of the 10 best new restaurants in the country.
Inside, though, Che Fico was crumbling, the restaurant’s owners said. The restaurant could barely keep up with the demand, despite everyone working overtime. Owners David Nayfeld and Matt Brewer felt overwhelmed by the pressure, and the restaurant was losing money. Their stress trickled down to an overworked, unhappy and underpaid staff. It came to a head one day in the kitchen, when a sous-chef overcooked $1,000 worth of octopus for the second time. Nayfeld lost it. He started screaming and cursing at the employee.
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