In a viral TikTok video, a woman who claims to be a former Chili’s employee showed the working conditions during the early COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were two hours behind because of all the orders that were coming in at Chili’s during COVID that all that food had to be thrown out, and we lost about $2000 dollars,” TikToker @alexservestea says.
The video shows full to-go boxes piled up throughout the kitchen. In the early days of the pandemic, the TikToker says the Chili’s location she worked at received hundreds of to-go orders as customers could not come inside.
“That was the worst day I have ever worked. It was when we were on lockdown, and people weren’t supposed to come inside. They were bombarding, bum-rushing us, and I threatened to call the police,” she says.
The TikToker says there were only three cooks that day, and they couldn’t keep up. She says this issue has only worsened with the labor shortage, as Chili’s now staffs skeleton crews, meaning one or two cooks at a time.
“This isn’t like a commission job and this isn’t a salary job. You do as much as you can—no, you have to get these orders out, or shit like that will happen. You’ll be two hours behind and you’re out $2,000 for the company,” the TikToker continues.
While the former employee says the cooks make minimum wage in California, she argues that they deserve an increase in pay due to the extra work placed on them from ghost kitchens. Brinker International, Chili’s parent company, opened two ghost kitchens, or online-only restaurants, that typically serve cuisine from multiple businesses, during the pandemic to boost sales.
“That ghost kitchen made Brinker $170 million it’s first year. They deserve to be paid for all the extra fucking work their doing. It’s not a fucking cake walk,” she says.
The two ghost kitchens reportedly include It’s Just Wings, a new venture, and Maggiano’s, an Italian brick-and-mortar that Brinker International expanded into its ghost kitchens. According to CNBC, Brinker International sold about $150 million in 2020 from It’s Just Wings alone.
The TikToker has made several other videos exposing Chili’s, including its tip distribution and COVID-19 safety. She also works to expose other instances in which corporations take advantage of low-paid service workers.
With over 80,000 views, the TikTok sparked outrage from users in the comments.
“Damn, looks like a sweatshop,” one user said.
“And people wonder why so many retail and restaurant workers are quitting…,” another said.
“There’s no way a ceo works harder than a cook I [swear to God],” a third user chimed in.
The Daily Dot reached out to user @alexservestea via TikTok comment and Brinker International via email.
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