Money stolen from Bread bakery irks employees

Some quitting after tips were reduced to compensate

A sign was put up by the tip jar at Bread after the bakery has had about $12,000 stolen over the last 10 months. The owners of Bread have begun to reduce the amount of tip money in employees’ paychecks to compensate for the losses. Some employees have received half the amount of tip money than in the past, and they have quit or have given their notices to quit as a result. Enlarge photo

Durango Herald

A sign was put up by the tip jar at Bread after the bakery has had about $12,000 stolen over the last 10 months. The owners of Bread have begun to reduce the amount of tip money in employees’ paychecks to compensate for the losses. Some employees have received half the amount of tip money than in the past, and they have quit or have given their notices to quit as a result.

Bread has had more than $12,000 stolen from its bakery over the past year, and current and former employees say they are being shortchanged on tips by the bakery’s owner to make up for the losses.

“The sign on our tip jar says the tips are the property of Bread, so people think it’s going to us, but it doesn’t,” said Alanna Espino, who quit over the matter a few weeks ago. “So we’ve been pretty vocal about what’s going on when customers ask.”

Bread’s co-owners, Rob Kabeary and Jeffe Morehart, told The Durango Herald their business is compliant with state regulations, and declined further comment on the matter.

According to several present and past employees, Bread’s owners started suspecting workers at the bakery, at Florida Road and County Road 250, were stealing money from the cash register more than a year ago.

In June, Bread’s owners included a letter in employees’ paychecks, obtained by the Herald, that said the theft is “beyond the scope of sadness” and has “repercussions that the bakery has difficulty absorbing.”

According to the letter, losses that date back to September 2016 amount to more than $12,000. The biggest losses were in November 2016 when $2,108 was suspected stolen, and June 2017, when $4,258 was suspected missing.

From April to May 2017, Bread’s owners told employees that an estimated $3,250 was stolen.

Durango Police have received no complaints or reports filed about Bread employees stealing or even about the stolen money, Cmdr. Ray Shupe said Monday.

At the time the letter was sent, employees noticed the amount received in tips included in their paychecks was significantly less than in months past. Employees at Bread are paid above minimum wage, and then receive additional tip money.

Employees told the Herald that previously, tips were not declared on taxes and Kabeary did not allow staff to count tips at the end of the day. Instead, Kabeary collected all tips and included the amount each employee received on their paychecks at the end of the pay period.

“There’s always been talk that he skims off the tips and distributes them as he sees fit,” said employee Greg Sevick. “But tips were super low that pay period (June), and people accused him (Kabeary) of taking tips in lieu of replacing the money that was supposedly stolen.”

Kabeary has no comment when asked about Sevick’s allegations.

Espino said a manager at Bread acknowledged to her that tips were being taken out of employees’ paychecks to compensate for the theft.

“Her exact words were, ‘What are we supposed to do? We were backed into a corner and had to make a decision,’” Espino said.

For example, Espino said during one pay period, before tips were taken out of her paycheck, she received $120 in tips after working 45 hours. But after receiving the owners’ letter, she received only $150 in tips in a 75-hour pay period.

“That should have been double,” she said.

Espino then called the Colorado Department of Labor to report the matter. She said the department instructed Bread’s owners to change the wording on the tip jar to ensure legal compliance.

In another letter to employees obtained by the Herald, Bread’s owners say they were contacted by the Department of Labor and that all tips would be declared and “withheld based on your total gross wages.”

Bread’s owners posted a sign on the tip jar to read “all tips or gratuities given by patrons are the property of bread” sometime in June. A spokesman at the Department of Labor said that language allows owners to do as they wish with tips.

Still, employees take issue with the fact there’s been theft, and say better measures could be taken to find a suspected culprit such as installing security cameras or accepting credit cards (Bread is cash only).

“Among employees, the allegation that someone is stealing is a little suspect,” said Lucas Ebnother, an employee who said about 20 to 25 people work at Bread. “We’re a pretty tight knit group ... and no one’s seen a single thing.”

Some sources told the Herald that a number of employees have quit, put in their notice to quit or are trying to find other work as a result of the changes to the amount of tip money they are receiving.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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