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Owner Responds to “Toxic and Dirty” Workplace Allegations at Disney Springs Bakery

Disney Springs Toxic Dirty
Credit: Inside The Magic

A Disney Springs location, Gideon’s Bakehouse, has been the subject of a scandal involving a whistleblower who claimed that employees suffer from low wages, dangerous workplaces, and “toxic and dirty” environments. Now, the owner has come forward to speak out on these allegations.

A close-up image of a Gideon's Bakehouse branded cup filled with a creamy beverage. The cup features a large ornate "G" logo. Beside it, there is a large cookie or pastry covered with chocolate chips. The background is warmly lit, making a bold statement about the owner's dedication to delightful treats.

Credit: Gideon’s Bakehouse

Gideon’s Bakehouse Owner in Disney Springs Steps Forward After Shocking Workplace Allegations

Following his recent statement, Steve Lewis, owner and creator of Gideon’s Bakehouse, has provided another update. This new statement was shared through an eight-slide carousel post on the official Gideon’s Bakehouse Instagram account on May 21, 2024. Gideon’s Bakehouse addressed the previous statement

on May 14, 2024. Here is the full text of the latest statement:

Hi! Me again. It’s been quite a week. It took me a while to make this post. First, I needed to make sure my team was ok. Second, I needed to speak with a clear head. Admittedly, I’ve been mad. I’ve been hurt. I’ve been numb. I don’t want to talk to you from that place. I only know how to be authentic with you, and I needed time to collect myself. This is not a company post. Gideon’s has never acted like a traditional business. It’s a little personal project I started alone, born from the grief of heartache. For me, Gideon’s Bakehouse feels like you’ve come to my home, and I’ve made something just for you… only now I have 180 people in the kitchen helping out.

For anyone wondering what I’m talking about, the brief: Someone hiding behind the shield of anonymity created a social media account making a laundry list of accusations about the Flagship Gideon’s shop, ranging from misleading to blatantly false to simply petty. It’s important to note: This person does not work for Gideon’s and is not representative of my crew. Every good store discusses improvements, and no one on the Gideon’s team does it through personal attacks and drama. While most of you saw through the claims very quickly, helping to deescalate things, I’d still like to briefly address a few topics.

A brick building with a Gothic-style design features a dragon statue on its corner. The sign reads "Gideon's Bakehouse." Several people stand outside the building, and palm trees are visible around the area. Amidst recent cookie controversy, its presence in Disney Springs remains iconic. The sky is partly cloudy.

Credit: Disney Springs Gideon’s Bakehouse

Pay: If you’re not sitting in front of us accepting a position, it’s NYB [sic “not your business”]. As for the wage/tipping controversy, this is an industry conversation, not a Gideon’s conversation. Our approach is incredibly standard, though it consistently benefits my staff more than most jobs because we’re fortunate enough to have a full line, and then some, from open to close every day 365.

Health & Safety: We’ve passed every single inspection since day one. There is no debate anyone can reasonably have here. Not to mention, you can see the store yourself. Both locations are almost completely visible to the public.

LGBTQ+ Support: As the son of a beautiful gay parent, accusations of discrimination are not just a colossal no, but the quickest tell that the claims weren’t coming from an honest place. There is none of this in my house, now or ever, full stop. Much of our staff is proudly part of the community, and we have their backs. We’ve celebrated Pride weekly for years, even when you know how I feel about color, but representation is fundamental.

Manager Slurs: This was a false personal attack and outright lie that hurt someone with a good, hard-earned reputation. It’s appalling, and I sincerely apologize to this manager. You and your family didn’t deserve to read such a thing.

Gideon's Bakehouse in Disney Springs

Credit: Gideon’s Bakehouse

The CEO Fat Cat: I want to bring this up because it’s a part of Gideon’s culture and a conversation I have with each person in every hiring interview. I am not a modern-day capitalist, meaning I don’t believe in squeezing to the top. We need to stay healthy, of course, but Gideon’s wasn’t created for enrichment. I won’t cut labor by automating production. Everything is handmade from scratch. I refuse to ship or deliver, prioritizing the in-person experience. I declined all offers to open more locations. Franchises aren’t my thing. We’re a proud part of Central Florida. We exist to create art and build community.

I understand the default belief that companies are greedy. However, we’re still just a local business trying to do our best, and our actions don’t support this narrative. I opened Gideon’s super broke in 2016. Since then, I’ve never increased my salary or taken a bonus. Earnings are invested in new and secret things that open the door for even more growth and opportunity within my team. Those are my/our values and, in my opinion, how businesses should act. Do I drive a Lamborghini? No, and wouldn’t want to. Do I have designer cats? No, they’re just really cool looking, so don’t be jelly.

Working for the G AKA the Real Culture: Every person who works in the store knows that I only have three job requirements. Quality Control. Keep the Store Handsome. Treat Everyone Like Family and Friends. That last one works toward guests and each other. I do not hire salespeople. There are no scripts. There are no metrics you must achieve. I don’t need my team to talk about Gideon’s. I want them to talk about X-men 97 (killer), favorite local restaurants, and sharing pet photos. I want guests and my crew to get to know each other. That’s the job — period. Everyone on our team hears this directly from my mouth. I trust each individual I hire to bring those ideals to their workplace, and you know our crew. They’re incredible. They are asked to care about the guest. Care about each other. Care about themselves. No one of those asks is more important than the other. That’s how we treat each other, from top to bottom.

Gideon’s bakehouse

Credit: Gideon’s Bakehouse

Thanks for letting me say some things. Gideon’s isn’t perfect — nothing is. But wow, do we really try. Doing the right thing is important on all levels of what we do. And in talking to so many of my peers this week, I’m not the only one. I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else. We have a community too large for my tiny brain to process, so we made it through an attack like this. Not every small business is in such a position, and that frightens me.

My love and praise go to my teams. I’m sorry we had to go through this together, but we’ll be all the better for it. End Market 4Ever! The Kitchen Crew works miracles, from Cookie toppers to Bakers! Gideon’s at Disney Springs brings the magic every day! How about the smooth stylings of the Merch Team! How about the madness of our Art Department of one?! And my Leadership Team, thank you for holding it all together, not just today but always. I’m a rambling pot of half-baked ideas without you.

Earlier this month, a collective of anonymous Gideon’s Bakehouse employees, calling themselves the Ghosts of Gideon’s, came forward with reports of dangerous and dirty working conditions and posted them on social media. The group also created an Instagram account and shared a letter of demand outlining the changes they sought in the workplace.

Among their complaints was that employees at Gideon’s are paid $8.98 per hour plus tips, but a recent policy change prohibits the team from asking for tips or publicly displaying a tip jar. The Ghosts of Gideon’s also stated that upper management uses discriminatory language and slurs, the crew is forced to work outdoors in the Florida heat and inclement weather while dressed in all-black attire and long pants, an unsanitary kitchen, and no space for a wheelchair to go behind the store’s counter.

A brick building with gothic architectural elements houses Gideon's Bakehouse at Disney Springs. It features a dragon statue perched above the entrance. People are walking and gathering near the entrance, and palm trees are visible around the building under a partly cloudy sky amidst a cookie controversy.

Credit: Gideon’s Bakehouse in Disney Springs

The most recent post from Ghosts of Gideon’s was on May 14, 2024, announcing that the Ghosts were in the process of organizing with UNITEHERE! Local 362. Alongside their post, the Ghosts shared that comments and messaging would be turned off, and the account would no longer be monitored:

We’ve won. Thanks to your incredible response, advocacy, and care we are proud to announce that the workers of Gideon’s Bakehouse are now in the process of organizing with UNITEHERE! Local 362. Through your support, we have brought national attention to unsafe and unfair working conditions, and through the union, we will now have a contract that demands fair pay, safe conditions, and fair conditions for all.

For now, we have completed our media interviews, and are turning off comments and messages, as our work has been done. We will continue to update you, as needed, on the progress of unionizing, and the positive changes as they begin to roll out at the Bakehouse.

Thank you all, truly, for the love and support you’ve shown to us.

Once again, you have confirmed that we, the workers, are the secret ingredient in America’s favorite cookie.

#StrongerTogether”

This post Owner Responds to ‘Toxic and Dirty’ Workplace Allegations at Disney Springs Bakery appeared first on Inside the Magic.

About Emmanuel Detres

Since first stepping inside the Magic Kingdom at nine years old, I knew I was destined to be a theme Park enthusiast. Although I consider myself a theme Park junkie, I still have much to learn and discover about Disney. Universal Orlando Resort has my heart; being an Annual Passholder means visiting my favorite places on Earth when possible! When I’m not writing about Disney, Universal, or entertainment news, you’ll find me cruising on my motorcycle, hiking throughout my local metro parks, or spending quality time with my girlfriend, family, or friends.

One comment

  1. The only question I truly have regarding the owner is what does he mean when he writes, “even when you know how I feel about color, but representation is fundamental.” At that point, it really does make you wonder about discrimination and racism in their stores. I have also seen the news story covered by the Today show, and they have verified that there are talks with the employees and the local union. So how much is true, and how much is false? Also, what is not stated in that letter are some of the resolutions Gideon’s has come up with. So that leads to the question, how much is true after all? So as usual, always do more digging, find more information, and form a valid opinion if you’ve used trusted sources. Ghosting may have actually helped bring to light a lot of truth considering a good portion of the complaints were addressed, along with some solutions, some “we’re following the law” so no, and some they just skirted around. So just because you may have a good experience as a customer by no way means a company would be good to work for. I worked customer service for a long time, and the fake smile and pleasantries made the customer feel good, all the while most of us hated the management and company. But when you need a job, you deal with it.

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