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Wahaca Admits Penalising Waiters for Dine-and-Dash Customers Was ‘Undefendable’

Mexican restaurant chain co-founder Mark Selby said “I haven’t thought about that policy for 10 years”

Tacos in a taco holder filled with corn, black beans, and queso, in a white dish Wahaca [Official Photo]

Wahaca co-founder reflects on walk-out policy debacle

Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca, co-founded by Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby, came under fire in June for its dine and dash policy, which charged staff for tables that left without paying. Now, the restaurant chain has introduced a tipline for staff who are concerned about the company’s practices, although the policy will retain its clause about waiters being held accountable if believed to be “complicit.” Co-founder Selby said in an interview with Big Hospitality that “the buck stops with me, but I haven’t thought about that policy for ten years. I assumed it wasn’t happening. But if it is, now there’s a way to let me know.”

Selby also said that “In this case we couldn’t explain the situation and I think it was assumed that this was happening every day in all our restaurants, when it wasn’t. But we do appreciate it being brought to our attention.”

As with the initial response, in which co-founder Thomasina Miers responded directly — and at times, sarcastically — to former Camden Labour councillor Sarah Hayward, who reported the issue at the chain’s Kentish Town restaurant, Selby’s remarks suggest that a fundamental failure to communicate throughout the company, as well as an outdated policy that Selby himself has now described as “undefendable,” led to a situation Wahaca could not control. Changing practices that would be described as concerning might be a better solution than introducing a way for staff to describe them as concerning, but at least something has been done. [Big Hospitality]

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