Paseo is reopening: Here’s hoping the new owner will treat the employees with dignity

The Seattle Times‘ Bethany Jean Clement and the Puget Sound Business Journal reported today that famous Seattle sandwich shop Paseo will be reopening in a matter of days under new management, led by Ryan Santwire.

The previous owner of Paseo, Lorenzo Lorenzo, abruptly closed Paseo’s two Seattle locations about a month and a half after being hit with a lawsuit alleging that he had refused his employees overtime pay and washroom/meal breaks. He then filed for bankruptcy. A federal judge recently approved the sale of his business for $91,000 in a bankruptcy auction to Santwire, who plans to reopen quickly.

Santwire, who appears to be a prduent and sensible man, assumed control over Paseo’s property, plant, and equipment, and immediately went to work rehiring old employees. He intends to reopen Paseo and serve the same food.

Lorenzo did not provide Santwire with copies of his recipes, but the Paseo staff who are being hired know them by heart, so recreating them was simple. Lists of ingredients cannot be copyrighted, so Santwire does not need Lorenzo’s cooperation or permission to make the same delicious sandwiches available for purchase again. No further changes are planned, he says, although we hope and expect that he will be a better employer than Lorenzo was.

We have no interest in patronizing establishments that mistreat their employees. Paseo is a Seattle institution, and given its large and loyal customer base, it should be able to take care of its employees. That means paying them on time, ensuring they get all the breaks they’re supposed to have, paying a living wage, and allowing them to take time off to attend to family or recover from an illness.