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Labor Department Fines Millie’s Cafe for Denying Overtime Pay

Plus, Howlin’ Ray’s Chinatown reimagined, dim sum brunch at Chifa, and more

Millie’s Cafe in Pasadena
Millie’s Cafe in Pasadena
Visit Pasadena
Mona Holmes is a reporter for Eater Los Angeles and a regular contributor to KCRW radio. She has covered restaurants, dining, and food culture since 2016. In 2022, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for a Jonathan Gold Local Voice Award.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reclaimed $370,194 from the owners of Millie’s Cafe — a Los Angeles daytime staple with locations both in Silver Lake and Pasadena — for back wages and damages for employees. In a statement this month, the Department of Labor found Millie’s Cafe violated the law by illegally denying workers overtime wages and hiding the activity.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found Millie’s Cafe owners Rober Yousef Babish, wife Ivette, and sons Julian and Joseph violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay employees overtime. Investigators found the family-operated restaurant attempted to conceal these labor violations by issuing company checks and giving cash payments to employees. In addition, the DOL cited the Babishes for failing to keep records of employee hours, including overtime.

The original Millie’s Cafe opened in 1926 and a second Pasadena location in 2018. Throughout the decades, a few former owners faced challenges in dealing with government entities. Eater LA reached out to Millie’s Cafe for comment but has not heard back.

Howlin’ Ray’s Chinatown getting a makeover

Howlin’ Ray’s is busier than ever after opening its massive Pasadena location last month. They’re now focusing on the original Chinatown outlet by redesigning the space with architecture firm Preen, Inc. Howlin’ Ray’s Chinatown still remains in action. Have a look at the Instagram post below to see what’s coming.

Chifa’s dim sum brunch

Eagle Rock’s Chifa put together a dim sum tasting menu on December 30 and 31. In true Chifa’s Peruvian-Chinese style, there’s a special menu with champagne, mocktails, and a Cantonese tea pairing for $75 a person. Make a reservation on Tock.

Hot pot spots in SoCal

At 6 a.m. today December 19, LA’s temperature read a frigid 41 degrees. This also means it’s a good idea to gather friends around a Sichuan-style hot pot. L.A. Taco has the goods.

Huntington Park’s Sazón closes

Huntington Park's favorite street vendor to brick-and-mortar restaurant Sazón closed over the weekend. The owners made the announcement via Instagram.

The Original Farmers Market history

LA In A Minute creator Evan Lovett put together a post talking about the seven oldest restaurants at The Original Farmers Market including Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts which opened in 1970, and the 73-year-old Patsy D’Amores Pizzeria. Get over to LA In A Minute’s Instagram or Lovett’s TikTok page for the full story.