Benny Darger and Zack Fitzroy, respectively the owner and the manager of Benny’s 24-Hour Dinette in Noyac, were arrested following an investigation into their unusual method of compensating employees.
According to the Dinette’s workers, Darger and Fitzroy routinely compensated them with large quantities of food.
“Lots of home fries,” said one longtime nightshift employee who wished to remain anonymous, explaining how he was paid. “I like home fries as much as the next guy, but what do you do with 15 pounds of them?” he asked. “Me and my whole family got pretty sick of home fries, and we couldn’t really trade them for anything else—and Darger refused to let me have lasagna instead.”
Dayshift workers had similar complaints, but said that they were usually paid with vats of coleslaw. Many gave accounts of gastric distress experienced after attempts to consume large quantities of coleslaw before the salad went bad.
While acknowledging that bartering with employees instead of paying wages is not necessarily illegal, officials allege that Darger and Fitzroy used barter to keep their employees off the books.
“They only had one official employee on the payroll,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch said. “The idea that you could run an all-night diner with just one employee is ludicrous. And most of the times I went in there, I saw at least three people working in the kitchen plus waitstaff. Give me a break!”
It’s suspected that Darger and Fitzroy conspired to avoid paying taxes on their employees by forcing them into bartering agreements, which would be a violation of federal tax statutes. The two were remanded to jail to await arraignment on the charges.