This story originally appeared on Business Insider.
The seemingly glamorous restaurant empire of Salt Bae, known for his iconic salt-sprinkling move, has recently come under fire as former employees reveal allegations of discrimination, tip theft, and misogyny within the company. With locations across three continents, Salt Bae's Nusr-Et chain of steakhouses has become a global phenomenon. However, recent investigations suggest that there may be a darker side to this culinary success story.
An Insider investigation, which included interviews with nine former employees and references to seven lawsuits against Salt Bae's businesses, sheds light on a culture of discrimination, tip theft, and misogyny. One former reservations agent at Nusr-Et Miami claimed that she felt disrespected and treated as inferior. She also alleged that while she wore a standard uniform, other women were encouraged to wear provocative clothing as if "going to the club."
In a lawsuit filed in November 2021, former Nusr-Et New York bartender Elizabeth Cruz claimed that she was instructed to wear revealing clothing. After complying, Cruz faced harassment from male colleagues and was ultimately fired after requesting to wear a more standard uniform.
Angelo Maher, another former employee at the New York Nusr-Et, filed a lawsuit in November 2021, accusing the company of “nationality-based discrimination.” Maher, who was called "Spanish shit" by a colleague, suffered "mental and physical anguish" due to persistent discrimination and intimidation directed at non-Turkish employees.
Tip theft is another issue highlighted by former employees. Maher’s legal complaint states that he was not allowed to receive tips when celebrities visited the New York restaurant. In a 2019 lawsuit, former New York waiter Mustafa Fteja alleged that Salt Bae took 3 percent off tips before distributing them to employees. Management systematically fired waiters who complained about not receiving tips.
A former bartender at Nusr-Et London also criticized the low quality of the uniforms provided, claiming they were “cheap as hell” and “paper thin.”
These revelations paint a concerning picture of the inner workings of Salt Bae's restaurant empire. As more information comes to light, it raises questions about the future of these popular establishments and the treatment of their employees.
For the full investigation into Salt Bae’s restaurants, visit Insider.