A restaurant industry veteran, Gene Dexter, who spent 15 years with Consolidated Restaurants, including Union Square Grill and Elliott's Oyster House, is claiming on his blog that at least a dozen employees of Scott's Bar & Grill in Edmonds were let go last week. Decker said the employees were accused of improperly applying corporate "loyalty" discounts to customers' checks.
Scott's participates in the "Eat Drink & Earn" loyaty program of its parent company, Restaurants Unlimited, Inc. The program awards one point per dollar spent; points can be redeemed for future meals at a rate of roughly $1 for every ten points--in other words, a ten percent discount
The program is designed to keep customers loyal to the multiple restaurant brands within RUI. The company operates 46 stores under those brands across 11 states, among them Palomino, Palisade, and Portland City Grill, so it's not as easy as it sounds. (Here's the FAQ and Rules for guests who sign up at Scott's.) According to Dexter, the fired employees were crediting (or charging) customers incorrectly, the kind of mistake that occurs frequently even in independent restaurants when customers use coupons, discount vouchers or gift cards. But Dexter thinks all that's a smokescreen for a more insidious rationale: to get rid of expensive longterm employees, reduce headcount and cut hours in order to save money on health care costs, among other things.
Eater has asked RUI for comments, but the company has not yet responded.
RUI, founded in 1969 by Seattle restaurateur Rich Komen, is now owned by Sun Capital Partners, a private equity company based in Boca Raton, Florida. The company owns all or part of ten restaurant groups similar to RUI, and has a reputation for tough financial management. Its co-ceo is Marc Leder, the executive in whose home Mitt Romney made the infamous "47%" comments.
· Restaurants Unlimited of Seattle and the New World Order—A Case Study [The Dexter Speaks]
· All Dish Coverage on Eater Seattle [-ESEA-]
[Photo: Scott's Bar & Grill / Yelp]