Workers at Swank Tel Aviv Restaurant Get Six Minutes to Eat

Taizu’s management shortened the end-of-shift meal from 15 minutes to save time - and money.

Dishwashers at Tel Aviv’s pricey Taizu restaurant get all of six minutes to eat the last meal of their shift, according to an internal document obtained by Haaretz.

Taizu’s instructions for employees, which go into precise detail on every procedure and service, mention employees’ meals as well. Staff receive three buffet meals a day: breakfast at 9:45 A.M., lunch at the 5 P.M. shift change and a late-night meal after the last customers have left. In addition, employees may order two meals at a 50-percent discount with the shift manager’s permission, and receive Stella Artois beer for free.

Taizu, which serves contemporary Asian cuisine, is jointly owned by its chef, Yuval Ben Neriah (who owns a 17-percent stake), manager Nadav Laor (12 percent), Kazakh-Jewish businessman Alexander Mashkevich (20 percent) and two companies, one British and one American, each holding 25 percent. Taizu, which has been busy every evening since it opened in March, ranked second on the Israeli restaurant critics’ Hebrew-language website, Tavlat Hamevakrim (www.thetable.co.il).

Every aspect of Taizu, which opened with an investment of $8 million, was carefully planned. It offers five kinds of ice including ice formed at -24 degrees Celsius (-11.2 degrees Fahrenheit) instead of -16 degrees Celsius (-3.2 degrees Fahrenheit), for that special drink in question. Leading artists were hired to design the decor, including utensils and lighting.

Recently, the owners realized that the late-night meal lasted about 20 minutes and delayed the restaurant’s closing — requiring them to pay employees for additional time.

So management issued a new rule limiting the dishwashers’ meal to six minutes. “To enable you to get home quickly from the night shift, the dishwashers’ meal break shall last no more than six minutes (not a quarter of an hour),” the instruction reads. Meanwhile, managers are instructed to “visit the kitchen often to speed things up, keep them moving, make them efficient and supervise the staff’s work so it’s done by 2:30 A.M.”

Laor, the head manager, referred Haaretz to the restaurant’s PR manager, Nirit Weiss.

“All Taizu employees, with no distinction among the dishwashers, waiters, shift managers and the rest of the staff, work in conditions that are among the most equitable in the restaurant industry, and we’re amazed at this petty accusation. Taizu workers receive four breaks during their shifts: a full lunch served at the start of the evening shift at 5 P.M., which lasts 25 minutes, and two to three more breaks for smoking and drinks, which are taken according to the workload in the kitchen and the level of mutual trust between management and the workers,” Weiss said.

“At the end of the workday, around 1 A.M., a light closing meal is served to the staff remaining in the restaurant. The employees have indeed been asked to shorten the time of this meal from 20 minutes to roughly 10 because the length of the meal break delayed the rest of the workers, who wanted to finish their workday and go home. That break is the third or fourth of the day. We at Taizu consider our employees of paramount importance, and we’re proud of our relationship of trust and respect with the staff.”

David Bachar
Eyal Toueg