William Jack Degel, the founder of the "Uncle Jack's Steakhouse" chain of restaurants in New York City and star of the Food Network's Restaurant Steakout, stopped by Fox & Friends today to whine about a recent hike in the minimum wage. In doing so, he somehow managed to suggest that his customers were stupid and ripped his employees for going to school. Nice!

His customers, he explained, would be personally insulted if he had to raise prices in order to pay his employees in accordance with the law, explaining “they’re not educated, they don’t understand what’s happening.”

Let us take a moment and look at the menu for "Uncle Jack's Steakhouse," shall we? Apparently, they are already charging $10 for a "house salad" consisting of lettuce, Bermuda onions, carrots and dressing. They are charging $10 to split an entrée. They are charging $8 for a side of mashed potatoes.

Now, perhaps these are normal New York steakhouse prices. My editrix says they are. All I can tell you is that if someone told me they paid $8 for a side of mashed potatoes I would demand to know if the place they dined at sent a damn car over to get them first. I am actually somewhat inclined to agree with Degel on how smart his customers are, only I personally do not think that a person who is already paying $10 for a side salad is going to balk at an $11 side salad. His prices are already ridiculous, so if he can't pay his own employees, that's on him.

Regardless, if these workers are expected to live in a city in which mashed potatoes cost $8, they need to be paid accordingly. Perhaps he has to charge more for his food because rent in New York City is expensive -- but it is also expensive for his workers to live there and pay rent themselves. The tipped employee wage in New York City has gone up to $10 an hour. Basically what this guy is saying is that he does not believe that his employees deserve to earn the equivalent of a side salad for an hour of their work. That is still not enough to afford a side of asparagus at his restaurant, because that costs $12.

Degel then goes on to rip on his employees, who go to school instead of wanting to be servants.

“They used to be servants. When I first opened years ago, people took great pride in being a servant. Today, they have a more sense of entitlement… the younger people, they’re not used to working. They’re starting later. They’re going to school, and then they don’t want to work.”

Oh, entitlement, you say? Entitlement? I would say that it is pretty "entitled" to think that just because you chose to open a restaurant rather than literally any other kind of business in the world, you shouldn't have to pay your workers a fair wage. That is a scam if there ever was one. Maybe he should just think of all the money he saved by barely having to pay his workers himself for the vast majority of the time he has been a restaurant owner, and be grateful for that.

Essentially what he's saying though is that he wants to go back to a time when people were simply grateful to be servants, and weren't going to aspire to more than that. Maybe feudalism! Feudalism would sure be nice! Don't have to pay serfs, that's for sure!

As it turns out, Uncle Jackass has a history of not really wanting to pay his workers. Excuse me, "servants." He was sued by his maid in 2013 after he only paid her $400 instead of $500 in cash for working in his home for 70 hours a week. We just mathed it, and that is $5 an hour. INCLUDING OVERTIME. He was also sued by 13 of his employees for refusing to pay them overtime, which they clearly forgot to accept with a servant's heart.

But given the fact that we want people to go to school and we don't want people to be serfs, perhaps we should all remember to not eat at Uncle Jackass's Steakhouse when we are in NYC. Not that we should go there anyway because $12 for asparagus is ridiculous.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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