Viral star turned restauranteur Salt Bae has come under fire this week as a number of less-than-savoury business practices have been revealed by his former employees. And selling wine that has been left behind by paying customers is just the tip of a very salty iceberg…
He may have an undeniably enviable physique, but since rising to internet stardom in 2017, Nusret Gökçe – better known as ‘Salt Bae’ – hasn’t had the greatest PR run. As well as his restaurants being ludicrously expensive and, according to most reviewers, wholly unexceptionable, he’s now facing somewhat seedier allegations…
The social media star and owner of the popular Nusr-Et restaurant empire has been accused of fostering a discriminatory workplace culture, stealing tips from employees, and reselling customers’ leftover wine.
Former staff members have spoken out about their experiences, revealing a toxic work environment that is allegedly discriminatory and exploitative.
WATCH: Despite everything, his restaurants are wildly successful. Here’s Salt Bae in action at the World Cup.
Despite receiving scathing reviews for poor quality cooking and insanely high prices, Salt Bae’s restaurants have been highly profitable, with the London restaurant alone making £7 million ($13 million AUD) in sales across its first three months.
Though this is obviously thanks in large part to his celebrity status and social media fame, recent reports suggest that his immense financial success may have come at the cost of his morals, with a clownish and carefully cultivated image camouflaging a much more sinister personality.
Former employees have accused Salt Bae of stealing tips from waiters, with one lawsuit alleging that he took 3% from employee gratuities before distributing them to his staff.
There have also been claims of a discriminatory workplace culture, with female employees being asked to wear skirts and high heels, and a widely accepted culture of male staff members making inappropriate comments towards female colleagues.
Furthermore, former staff members have claimed that customers’ leftover wine was resold by the glass and that free wine samples provided by retailers were sold to diners at significant cost. The cheapest bottle of wine on the Nusr-Et London wine list is reportedly priced at £60, while its average off-trade price is a meagre £12.80, according to Vivino users.
Salt Bae has yet to respond to the allegations. However, these reports have brought to light a number of issues that are probably more commonplace in the hospitality industry than restaurateurs would care to admit.
While many may be disappointed that the true cost of a good meal out has been made clear by a long-revered social media star, I for one have never seen the appeal of overpriced steak seasoned with salt that has bounced down a hairy man’s forearm, so must confess that I am neither surprised nor disappointed…