Urasawa, the rave-inspiring Beverly Hills sushi restaurant where the average check is $1,111, is being fined many times that amount over labor violations.
California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su wrote in a citation that the eatery will face a $65,785 fine. Three workers are owed $38,585 in unpaid wages after being told to work in excess of 10 hours a day without overtime pay, according to the citation.
The rest of the fine represents penalties. The state says Urasawa also failed to provide wage statements itemizing employee hours or pay rates as required by law.
At a protest outside Urasawa’s 2 Rodeo Drive address Thursday, former employee Heriberto Zamora said in Spanish that he was abruptly fired nine hours into a shift after he asked to go home to recover from a high fever and flu. He said he has yet to receive his final paycheck, which he said was withheld.
The Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, or KIWA, organized Thursday's event. Dozens of participants showed up, several of them dressed in giant, colorful costumes and banging on cymbals, drawing a stark contrast to the sleek lines of the Tiffany & Co. and Judith Lieber stores nearby.
Victor Narro, a project director at the UCLA Labor Center, presented research suggesting that Los Angeles has the highest rates of wage theft in the country.
Each week, employers withhold $26.2 million from workers, or $1.4 billion a year, Narro said.
Curious tourists snapped photos. Representatives from Urasawa, located in a nondescript second-floor space tucked off the street, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Urasawa was recently ranked by the Daily Meal as the second-most-expensive eatery in the country behind New York City's Masa.
The restaurant has a nearly perfect score on review site Yelp, where patrons refer to their pricey meals as "breathtaking," "a once in a lifetime experience" and "absolutely perfect."
The restaurant, which Su's office said employs eight workers, is named after its chef, Hiroyuki Urasawa.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement also issued citations to Ikebana Restaurant of Salinas and Seoul Jung of Santa Clara.
For the record, 2:10 p.m. March 14: A previous version of this post incorrectly said employers in Los Angeles withhold $2.6 million from workers each week. The correct number is $26.2 million.