Jan 2019 | Melbourne cafe queen ripping off workers and trading while insolvent

Date: 30 Jan 2019 

Source: The Age

The former owner of cafes across Melbourne which have featured in the Good Food Guide is facing claims of underpayment and trading while insolvent.

Clare Hu was the owner and operator of Bluff Town in Sandringham, The Resident in Ashburton, Stepping Stone in South Yarra and V in South Yarra.

Lauded as "an (almost) overnight Gen Y success story", the property developer turned cafe owner had plans to expand her business to China.

However, former employees said Ms Hu built her cafe empire by underpaying them, with workers at The Resident cafe owed $169,000.

She joins a range of hospitality operators who have been found to have underpaid staff includingtop chefs Neil Perry, George Calombaris and Shannon Bennett.

Ms Hu has now sold Bluff Town cafe and The Resident cafe, and closed Stepping Stone cafe and V.

Trent Saunders worked as a waiter for two years for Ms Hu at The Resident cafe and was paid a flat rate with no penalty rates which started out at $16 an hour and increased to $19.50 an hour over the course of his employment.