Lynn’s Paradise Café, one of Louisville’s most iconic restaurants, closed abruptly Friday night.

Guests gathered for a recent New Year’s Day pajama party at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe.

A statement authored by founder and owner, Lynn Winter, was released to the press late Friday, but gave no reason other than saying, “As of January 11, 2013 Lynn’s Paradise Café has closed its doors.

“Thank you to all of our loyal customers and faithful employees for making it possible to run a 22-year business.”

Over the past week, LPC has been the talk of the town, but not for its clever food, kitschy décor or colorful owner.

Following her Jan. 2 termination, LPC server Lelia DiFazio lashed out at Winter on WLKY-32’s Facebook page, saying she was wrongly let go because she could not comply with a new rule tied to the restaurant’s tip sharing policy.

Since front-of-the-house employees typically earn the bulk of their income in cash, the modern-day use of credit cards by customers to pay for meals and tip servers and bartenders has left some restaurant operators short on cash to spread out among those employees.

To alleviate the problem, Winter’s new policy mandated servers start their shifts with $100 of their own cash to ensure they were able to “tip out” to their assistants. (Other restaurants reported to Insider Louisville that they keep a cash buffer on hand to cover such shortfalls.)

Throughout the week, a torrent of public support for DiFazio lit up Internet news and social media websites. Many commenters accused Winter of violating state law by terminating DiFazio because restaurant owners cannot force tipped employees to share tips with coworkers.

Winter’s statement does not acknowledge the controversy as influencing her decision to close.

Lynn’s Paradise Café opened in 1990 on Frankfort Ave. in a diminutive Clifton neighborhood space. An immediate success, Lynn’s customers spent the next four years waiting as much as 90 minutes for plates full of Winter’s home-style breakfasts, lunches and dinners made with unique twists.

In 1995, Winter moved the business to the Barret Ave. location, effectively tripling seating and parking, and added a bar.

In the years that followed, Lynn’s gained local attention for its annual Ugly Lamp Contest, as well as its annual New Year’s Day Pajama Party, where guests dined in their PJs.

It drew national renown in multiple magazines and newspapers around the country. A few years ago, celebrity chef Bobby Flay visited the restaurant to record an episode of his popular “Throwdown” TV show.

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Steve Coomes
Steve Coomes is a restaurant veteran turned award-winning food, spirits and travel writer. In his 24-year career, he has edited and written for multiple national trade and consumer publications including Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. He is a feature writer for Louisville magazine, Edible Louisville & The Bluegrass and Food & Dining Magazine. The author of two books, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and the "Home Distiller's Guide to Spirits," he also serves as a ghostwriter for multiple clients.

18 thoughts on “Pajama breakfasts no more: Lynn’s Paradise Café closes abruptly on Jan. 11

  1. the question on many people’s mind now is, what eles is she hiding? one day of a campaign and she closes her restaurant of 22 years?

  2. the question on many people’s mind now is, what eles is she hiding? one day of a campaign and she closes her restaurant of 22 years?

  3. If, as published reports indicate, she was using the “tip sharing” scheme to circumvent minimum wage laws, and she realized her entire cost-structure was about to be hit by a $5 / hour increase on her back area staff (plus a legal challenge by serving staff to recoup the shared tips for however long it’s been illegal to force sharing), she’s probably decided it’s just not worth keeping the concern going.

  4. If, as published reports indicate, she was using the “tip sharing” scheme to circumvent minimum wage laws, and she realized her entire cost-structure was about to be hit by a $5 / hour increase on her back area staff (plus a legal challenge by serving staff to recoup the shared tips for however long it’s been illegal to force sharing), she’s probably decided it’s just not worth keeping the concern going.

  5. Wait. Staff were going to sue for tipping out THEIR help? Tipping out is accepted practice EVERYWHERE. They shouldn’t have had to be “FORCED” to do it in the FIRST place!!! I’ve never been to the place, but sounds like the wait staff there are the kind of people I wouldn’t want waiting on me anyway.

  6. Wait. Staff were going to sue for tipping out THEIR help? Tipping out is accepted practice EVERYWHERE. They shouldn’t have had to be “FORCED” to do it in the FIRST place!!! I’ve never been to the place, but sounds like the wait staff there are the kind of people I wouldn’t want waiting on me anyway.

  7. There’s a difference between being expected to do something and being forced to do it by management. It’s the latter that is illegal in the state of Kentucky, not the former. The problem is also that, since more and more people no longer tip cash, “tip sharing” becomes a book-keeping nightmare for the establishment. Her solution – demanding that servers bring at least $100.00 cash so they can “tip out” their helpers – meant she was institutionalizing a voluntary activity – and that’s illegal.

  8. There’s a difference between being expected to do something and being forced to do it by management. It’s the latter that is illegal in the state of Kentucky, not the former. The problem is also that, since more and more people no longer tip cash, “tip sharing” becomes a book-keeping nightmare for the establishment. Her solution – demanding that servers bring at least $100.00 cash so they can “tip out” their helpers – meant she was institutionalizing a voluntary activity – and that’s illegal.

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