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Lawsuit Alleges Several Chicago Bars Withheld Over $30M in Tips

Four Corners denies the allegations and looks forward to its day in court

An outdoor bar surrounded by counters and stools.
Federales is a Four Corners bar.
Four Corners [Official Photo]
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Four Corners, the owners of several Chicago bars — including Benchmark, Brickhouse Tavern, and WestEndhave been hit with a class-action lawsuit by workers with an attorney alleging the company has withheld more than $30 million in tips from servers and bartenders from 2011 to 2018. The lawsuit names 17 Four Corners’ establishments and could affect as many as 800 employees.

The lawsuit details alleged practices where Four Corners would withhold tips as means to avoid paying taxes. While the lawsuit has been expanded to include other employees, the primary plaintiff was a bartender at Benchmark in Old Town. He alleged that he wasn’t paid the amount he was entitled. Bar employees log their tips nightly before leaving. That $30 million figure isn’t in the lawsuit and is from the plaintiff’s attorney who’s encouraging more employees to join his lawsuit.

A hearing is scheduled for November 16 in Cook County circuit court. Attorneys asked for a jury trial in the 107-page suit filed on Thursday.

The company called the claims “without merit and based on a misunderstanding” in a widely distributed statement. Four Corners, after 17 years, recently dropped the “tavern group” portion of its name as it prepares for a national expansion, They’ve explored new strategies in recent years including collaborating with Brendan Sodikoff’s Hogsalt Hospitality, the owners of Au Cheval.

Matt Menna, a Four Corners co-founder and principal at Sterling Bay, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Sterling Bay is one of the city’s biggest developers and last week unveiled its $1 billion proposal for Lincoln Yards. That’s the project to develop the former Finkl Steel plant and the area along Elston Avenue around Lincoln Park and Bucktown. Sterling Bay’s fingerprints are all over the city including in the West Loop and Fulton Market — a trendy area for restaurants in Chicago.


1326 West Madison Street, , IL 60607 (312) 981-7100 Visit Website

Au Cheval

800 West Randolph Street, , IL 60607 (312) 929-4580 Visit Website


2820 Commerce Street, , TX 75226 (214) 227-6767 Visit Website

Brickhouse Tavern

3647 North Clark Street, , IL 60613 (773) 377-4770 Visit Website


1510 North Wells Street, , IL 60610 (312) 649-9640 Visit Website