Popular Disney World Eatery Responds To Horrible Abuse Claims

in Food, Syndication, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

A close-up of a wooden robotic hand touching a cookie covered in colorful candy-coated chocolates, such as M&Ms, evokes childhood whimsy. The cookie and hand rest on a piece of paper with various abstract doodles and sketches that would feel right at home in a Disney World eatery.

Credit: Gideon's Bakehouse

In 2016, a brand-new eccentric bakery opened in Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort. Almost immediately, Gideon’s Bakehouse gained a huge following, with guests frequently waiting in line for hours to get their hands on the baked goods. Gideon’s is known not only for its steampunk style and massive delicious cookies but also for its scratch-made cakes and tasty coffee and cold brew options.

Gideon’s is so popular that a line forms before the store opens and doesn’t go away until it closes. Crowds can get so crazy that the store sometimes has to switch to a virtual queue to keep things orderly in the East End area of Disney Springs! Peanut butter crunch, triple chocolate chip, and coffee cake cookies, oh my!

A Gideon's Bakehouse Chocolate Chip Cooke
Credit: Gideon’s Bakehouse

On May 11, fans of Gideon’s were stunned when some disturbing claims made against the company and its owner began going viral. An Instagram account called Ghosts of Gideons claimed that the company did not pay its employees minimum wage, forced them to rely on tips, and frequently used racial slurs when referring to employees and guests.

There are numerous health & safety violations at the Spring’s location. We are paid $8.95 per hour, the lowest of any employee, and we are forced to rely on your tips to make our wage.

Upper Management is also utilizing racial slurs to refer to you & us, such as ‘gypsies’ and ‘hoodlums’ during official meetings and we cannot allow this disgusting behavior to continue. 

Peanut Butter Crunch
Credit: Disney

Related: Couple Has Epic Wedding Photoshoot Inside Gideon’s Bakehouse at Disney Springs

A demand letter was sent to the owner, Steve Lewis, and managers Bryan and Patrick. You can read the full letter here.

According to a follow-up post, word quickly got back to ownership and management, who then allegedly began cornering staff, trying to find out who was behind the terrible claims. They reportedly fired anyone they thought might be involved, and one manager, identified as Drew, asked why people were “acting so autistic.”


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A post shared by Ghosts of Gideons (@ghostsofgideons)

Now, just says after everything blew up, the owner of Gideon’s is responding to the claims made against him and some of his management team. A response was shared in the company’s Instagram stories — which disappear after 24 hours.

Hi. I’m getting a lot of calls to answer the anonymous poster’s claims of workplace mistreatment. We will respond, but I am not anonymous and have guidelines I must understand. However, much of what is being represented is either misleading or false.

I ask you not to run to the pitchforks and hear our side. I hope we’ve earned at least that much in our own community. I can eagerly go through the list of demands, why I shake my cold brew flavors to our handicap/ADA compliance.

Also, the flagship store offers competitive take-home that is more than double what has been claimed, plus full benefits. In our nine years of business, we have never failed a health and safety report or had any major infractions, and our second location would not have been permitted to open without meeting all requirements and then some.

Most importantly, I love my team. I hire everyone personally, and we discuss bringing emotional maturity and leaving out ego in the workplace with the need to look out for each other. Sometimes, people fall short and are let go, but you’ll notice many of the same faces have been with me for years.

Gideon’s is a team of over 180 peeople, and no one can every say that everyone is completely happy in a group that large, but I feel confident that everone is treated with care and respect. 

Instagram story from Gideon's Bakehouse at Disney Springs addressing claims of workplace mistreatment. The text asserts their dedication to fair treatment of employees and outlines their policies on inclusivity, rigorous training, and overall employee satisfaction.
Credit: Gideon’s Bakehouse, Instagram

Now, there is something interesting to note in this apology. First, the owner said that the flagship store offers competitive pay. The Disney Springs store — which is at the heart of the Ghosts of Gideons complaint — is NOT the flagship store, so the claim that Disney Springs employees are very underpaid is ignored.

The owner, Steve, also did not address the tip issue. While tipping is not completely unheard of, many wondered if it was required when simply buying Gideon’s cookies. In addition to that, in early May, Gideon’s employees were told that they were no longer allowed to politely ask for or suggest a tip. They were also no longer allowed to display a tip jar. So, guests would not know that tips were allowed or encouraged.

Gideon's Bakehouse
Credit: Gideon’s

Related: Cast Members Describe Disney Workplace as a ”Police State”; Ex-Employee Exposes Owner’s Frivolous Spending

Some employees took to social media and agreed with Ghosts of Gideons’ claims. However, there were those who defended the owner and managers. They really took issue with the fact that the demand letter likened working for Gideon’s to an 1800s slave plantation, which is not an appropriate comparison.

There have been threats to boycott the beloved bakery, but it remains to be seen how much the post will affect Gideon’s bottom line.

What do you think of the owner’s response to the claims made against Gideon’s Bakehouse? Let us know in the comments!

This post originally appeared on Disney Dining

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