Reata Restaurant hit with wage theft lawsuit

ALPINE – A lawsuit has been filed against the Reata Restaurant in Alpine on behalf of a group of former servers and bartenders.

Attorney Drew N. Herrmann of North Richland Hills, who filed the suit, said it affects both Fort Worth and Alpine Reata restaurants.

“We are seeking to include servers in both locations,” Herrmann said. “In talking to the servers and bartenders, we found the policies are exactly the same in both locations.”

Al Micallef, owner of the CF Ranch, partnered with Fort Worth businessman Mike Evans in 1995 and opened the first Reata Restaurant in Alpine, Texas with another location in Fort Worth launching in May 2002.

According to Herrmann Law’s website, the lawsuit was filed on June 19 and alleges that Reata illegally retained a portion of its servers and bartenders’ tips by making illegal deductions from their wages. The servers and bartenders were allegedly charged for Reata-branded check presenters, Reata-branded ink pens, name tags, uniforms, aprons, wine keys and pen lights to shift the costs of business from the restaurant to the workers, in violation of federal law. Reata allegedly allowed its bar manager to illegally participate in the tip pool. The lawsuit also alleges that Reata illegally required its servers to perform side-work at the subminimum server wage of $2.13 per hour.

The court is asked to allow the action to proceed collectively on behalf of all current and former Reata servers and bartenders who sign a consent form to affirmatively opt-in and join the lawsuit.

The lawsuit demands that as a result of Reata’s illegal conduct, the lawsuit seeks compensation of $5.12 per hour for servers and $2.10 for bartenders for each hour worked at Reata in the past three years, plus double this amount as “liquidated damages.”

The lawsuit also seeks recovery of the amounts Reata allegedly illegally charged its servers and bartenders for Reata’s business expenses plus an equal amount as liquidated damages.

Finally, the lawsuit seeks an additional award for the servers and bartenders’ attorneys’ fees and costs.

Herrmann said no hearings or other action has been scheduled. “This is really just the very beginning,” he said.