Star Tribune – Chew on this: Hell’s Kitchen owners sell their restaurant to employees

From the Star Tribune

Hell’s Kitchen, the Minneapolis restaurant known for irreverent marketing, a 35-foot Bloody Mary bar and lemon-ricotta pancakes, will soon stand out for something else: employee ownership.

On Wednesday, owners Cynthia Gerdes and Steve Meyer closed the restaurant after lunch for a staff meeting, where they told more than 100 employees they will transfer their shares into a newly created employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP. The pair, both in their mid-60s, also laid out plans to retire in coming years.

“Hell’s Kitchen will be one of only a few independent restaurants in the country with an ESOP,” Gerdes said.

The move means that Gerdes and Meyer, instead of being paid for their stake all at once, will receive a portion of the restaurant’s profits from the ESOP for years to come. But employees will get most of the future profits, which they will be able to use for retirement savings or additional income.

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