• CANTINA HAS BECOME ONE OF NEW YORK'S FAVORITE MEXICAN RESTAURANTS AND BARS. WE COULD NOT DO this without great staff promoting our brand, values, and company to the thousands of guests we serve.

This employee handbook was created to guide our day-to-day operations and to ensure all employees are treated fairly and held to equal standards. All employees are required to adhere to the standards set forth in the following text. 

Cantina operates on a "three strike" system. If an employee violates a policy, it will be counted as a 'strike'. If an employee obtains three (3) documented strikes within a six month period starting after the first recorded incident, further disciplinary action will be taken. This usually means suspension or termination of employment. Some exclusions exist, for example, cases revolving around harassment, theft, and others in which Cantina strictly enforces a 'zero tolerance' stance.



  • All employees must be on company payroll before beginning their first shift.
    • Please visit corporate headquarters at:
      • Harlem Bar-B-Q, 2367 Frederick Douglas Blvd. (127 St & 8 Av.) New York, NY 
      • Tuesday or Friday 11am-5pm
  • All employees must sign a NY Labor Dept. knowledge of pay rate/day (form LS-59)
  • All employees will be paid in accordance with all federal and New York State labor laws, including minimum wage, overtime, and any other applicable wage laws.
  • All employees must provide legal Identification. You will not be allowed to change names or Social Security numbers on your payroll documents unless you have an approved and official name change order by a court/judge.
  • Some employees such as managers, contractors, or administrative staff, will fall under different wage orders and be issues individual wage agreements that comply with all laws.
  1. Payroll is processed using the times accumulated on the point-of-sale system timecard. It is your responsibility to ensure your times are correct before the end of a given pay-period. 
    1. If you forget to clock-out for a shift, we will automatically correct the out-time to match your scheduled shift for that specific date. 
    2. ALL employees, regardless of method paid, are required to clock in and clock out for the duration of any time they are performing work for Cantina.
  2. If there is an error on a paycheck, the employee must immediately inform the manager, officer, or owner of the company in writing (such as a text or e-mail). 
    1. company made errors will be corrected and a manual check for any amount owed will be issued within one business day.
    2. errors due to an employee mistake will be corrected on the next paycheck.
  3. Payday is every Friday. In some circumstances, such as holidays, weather conditions, or other uncontrollable delays in processing or shipping- paychecks may be delayed by a few business days. If this happens, the company may issue, at their discretion, manual paychecks as a courtesy to employees. In this case, the official check will be kept upon arrival and the employee will only be issued their pay-stub. 
    1. The company reserves the right to delay a payday because of unforeseeable events.
    2. You will be paid no later than the Monday after a Friday payday.
    3. In the event manual checks are issues, you will not receive a pay-stub immediately with your paycheck. However, pay-stubs will be issued when they're delivered, no later than the following Monday.
  4. Pay periods are Monday-Sunday. The current week is always paid the following Friday
  5. Any court-ordered garnishes (such as child support) will be automatically deducted from your paycheck.
  6. At this time, servers and bartenders may sign-up for direct deposit. 
    1. Employees who take advantage of direct deposit will NOT receive paper pay-stubs.
    2. You are required to create an account with ADP Payroll Services (free), so you may access, print, and manage your pay-stubs, direct deposit info, address, taxes, etc.
  7. Paychecks are delivered in secure sealed envelopes. The company logo and owners signature will be on the checks.
  8. Cantina prohibits sharing information on rate of pay. Your pay is your business, not your co-workers. Cantina may pay a co-worker performing the same role differently based on things like work experience, length of service, so rate of pay therefor should not be compared. 
    1. Many positions have starting salaries, or minimum wage requirements. If you're interested in another position and would like to know how much it pays, please talk to your manager, not the .

Cash Advances / Pay-Day Loans / Personal Loans

  • While all of us may face a financial hardship at some point, Cantina does not give pay-day loans, cash advances, or other type of monetary loans to employees for any reason. 
  • If you are facing a true financial crisis or hardship, Cantina may be able to provide extra shifts or side-work to earn additional income. Please discuss this with your manager or an owner of the company.

Dress Code

  • Employees will be given "Cantina" branded t-shirts. Each employee shall receive three to five shirts depending on the frequency they are scheduled. These must be worn for all shifts.
  • These are yours to keep. We do not recycle t-shirts. If you need special accommodations you must inform us in writing. 
  • In the event you're hired and we've ran out of t-shirts:
    • wear a black shirt (such as a plain black t-shirt, black business casual type shirt)
    • t-shirts will be issued to you after the next ordering cycle
  • Jeans, business-casual pants, and skirts are acceptable so long as they do not have any writing, images, or are otherwise plain. Athletic pants (jogging pants, yoga pants, etc.) are not permitted.
  • Shoes
    • no open-toe shoes or sandals are allowed during shift
    • non-slip shoes are encouraged, but not required
    • high heals are not permitted
  • Kitchen staff and any employees handling food must wear a hat or a provided hair net at all times
  • Employees must always present themselves in a clean and professional manner. "Business casual" is the go-to theme.

Scheduling & Attendance, Time-Off, Jury Duty, Leave of Absence

  1. Employees must register for access (free) using the "When I Work" app and online scheduling software. You will be guided through this as part of the new-hire process. This can always be accessed by visiting:
  2. Employees are expected to arrive prepared for their shift and on-time
    1. "on-time" means no later than 10 minutes after your scheduled start time.
    2. Three or more 10-minute violations will result in disciplinary action up-to and including termination. 
    3. NYC offers many public transportation options. It is your responsibility to arrive on time to work. We do not accept MTA issues ('my train was late') as excusable tardiness reasons. 
  3. Cantina reserves the right to schedule employees in the best interests of the business, and not necessarily the employee. We consider many factors when scheduling such as availability, prior tardiness, sales, performance, and several additional attributes. Your shifts are earned and are never guaranteed. What does this mean?
    1. e.g. Employee Jon Doe usually works 5 days a week as a bartender Monday-Friday. He's done this for years. Lately Jon has been arriving to work late, and his sales have been lower than usual. After he has received a warning, the scheduling manager may drop John down to 3 days a week until performance has improved.
    2. e.g. Employee Jane Doe has been working 3-4 shifts any given week. Jane decides to take another job at another business and changes her availability at Cantina and can no longer work weekends. The scheduling manager may drop Jane down to 1 or 2 shifts a week to give preference to an employee who offers Cantina more availability.
    3. e.g. You applied for and are hired to work specifically on Saturdays and Sundays as a weekend job. You will only be scheduled to work Sat/Sun however this does not guarantee a set amount of hours, days, or shifts. Cantina may schedule another employee.
    4. Cantina may give scheduling preference to an employee who performs well. Performance means sales, attitude, positive customer feedback, etc.
    1. Employees requesting time off for a future, non-published schedule may do so at any time. All requests must be make using "when i work".
    2. For requests that occur during an already published schedule, you must use "when i work" to swap, drop, or request a day off.
      1. This must be approved first to be in effect.
    1. We'll work with you to ensure you may participate in this important public service. We will follow all jury summons on a case-by-case basis. We will follow and adhere to all labor laws on jury duty should the time come. 
    1. All leaves are covered on a case-by-case basis. This includes military, family medical, active duty, maternity, etc.
      1. We'll gladly answer your questions regarding your specific case, or refer you to our labor attorney if you need detailed legal explanations. 
      2. We follow all labor and other applicable laws in regard to leave
      3. All leaves are fully-documented. Requests must be in writing.


Cantina believes in the value of a diverse workforce, equal opportunity and a workplace free of discrimination and all forms of unlawful harassment. We believe in these values because they make good business sense and are the right things to do.

Cantina prohibits unlawful discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment. Employees who violate this policy may be disciplined up to and including immediate termination.

Discrimination Prohibited

  • Cantina strongly believes that employees and applicants for employment should be treated fairly and without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status or any other prohibited basis. This applies to all employment practices, including recruiting, hiring, pay, performance reviews, training and development, promotions and other terms and conditions of employment. Discrimination or harassment of an employee—whether by another employee, supplier, vendor or customer—is strictly prohibited.

Harassment Prohibited

  • At Cantina no form of harassment is acceptable. This includes joking remarks or other abusive conduct (including verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct) that demeans or shows hostility toward an individual because of his/her race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, veteran status or any other prohibited basis and that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or otherwise adversely affects an individual¹s employment opportunities.

Sexual Harassment Prohibited

  • Cantina is firmly committed to maintaining a positive working environment for all employees, whether male or female. Sexual harassment is prohibited because it may be intimidating or an abuse of power and it is inconsistent with our policies, practices and management philosophy. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and certain other verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct that is sexual or based on gender if that conduct could reasonably offend another person, whether or not such conduct was intended to offend.
  • Examples of sexual harassment can include the following:
    • Verbal harassment, including jokes, comments or threats relating to sexual activity, body parts or other matters of a sexual nature.
    • Non-verbal harassment, including staring at a person’s body in a sexually suggestive manner, sexually related gestures or motions and/or circulating sexually suggestive materials.
    • Unwelcome physical conduct, including grabbing, holding, hugging, kissing, tickling, massaging, displaying private body parts, unnecessary touching or other unwelcome physical conduct.
    • An employment decision (including promotion, demotion, compensation, scheduling) made by a Manager/Director based on the employee’s submission to or rejection of sexual conduct.
    • Submission to sexual conduct as an implicit or explicit condition of getting or keeping a job.
    • Conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to a person because of his/her gender and creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
    • Any other sexual conduct that unreasonably interferes with another person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment, or adversely affects another person’s employment opportunities.
  • All employees are required to adhere to this sexual harassment policy while on the premises, while engaging in work-related activities, during Company-sponsored trainings and other functions and at non-Company activities when conduct at these activities would affect the work environment. 

Employee Recourse

  • Every employee has the right, and is encouraged, to tell any Cantina employee in a professional manner to stop behavior towards him/her that the employee believes to be discriminatory, harassing and/or offensive. Any employee who feels subjected to discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment should immediately report such behavior directly to their Manager/Director or to an owner of the company. Reports may be made at any time on any day. An objective investigation will be conducted based on the facts presented. If the results of the investigation confirm the offense, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken against the person violating the policy, ranging from a warning to termination. Cantina also has an online report form, which may be accessed 24/7 by visiting

Retaliation Prohibited

  • Cantina encourages employees to freely report incidents of discrimination or harassment without fear of reprisal. Retaliation against any employee who has made a complaint in good faith about discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment, or who has cooperated in the investigation of such a complaint, is prohibited. Retaliation includes any employment decision or other conduct made with the intent to punish an employee for complaining about or assisting in the investigation of discrimination or harassment, and any decision or conduct that might have discouraged a reasonable employee from making a complaint or cooperating in an investigation. 

Tip Credits/Gratuity/Auto-Gratuity

You are required, by law, to report your tips to your employer. We are also required to report your tips to the IRS for tax purposes both on your individual paychecks and for business tax purposes. The following are guidelines to consider if you're a tipped employee at Cantina.

Tip Credits

  • Tipped employees are usually payed at a lower rate, often minimum wage. However, state and federal laws allow a pre-determined hourly amount to be deducted in from this hourly wage for tipped employees. This is referred to as a "tip-credit". For example, if the current minimum wage is $9/hour, we may elect to take the maximum tip credit of $1.50/hour against that $9/hr, meaning your pay from the restaurant is $7.50 an hour minimum, plus your tips.
  • In the event your hourly wage falls below $9 per hour for the time you've worked because you have not earned enough tips, Cantina is required to pay you the difference so you always earn the minimum wage.


  • Customers may offer a voluntary gratuity to express their gratitude for your service. Cantina may place auto-calculated percents of gratuity levels on the guest checks to make calculations fast and easy for the guests.
  • Cantina prohibits circling, highlighting, or any other means to draw attention to the gratuity line or the tip calculations on the receipt. 
  • Tips will be paid-out in accordance with the current payroll policy.
  • You are required to report your cash tips honestly at the end of your shift in the PoS system when prompted.
  • Gratuity on a bill is calculated on a pre-tax basis (gratuity does not get calculated with the tax of the bill).

Automatic Gratuity

  • Automatic gratuity is a gratuity that is automatically calculated at a specific determined rate and applied to a customer's bill and calculated in the total amount due. 
  • Automatic gratuity is not a service fee. 
  • Cantina strictly prohibits the use of automatic gratuity, unless the following conditions are both met:
    1. You have served a party of 6 or more guests
    2. Your specific location has a notice of an automatic gratuity clearly stated on the menu including percent and guest count required to enact the automatic gratuity.
  • Your PoS system will automatically include automatic gratuity as soon as the guest count on any given check is 6 or more guests. 
    • Do not abuse the guest count feature. Any employee caught changing/increasing the guest count to purposefully include automatic gratuity when the above conditions have not been met will face disciplinary action including termination. Automatic gratuity is closely monitored in daily sales reports by managers and owners as the restaurant must report it differently for tax purposes. It will be noticed every time you use it.

Theft & Security


Theft comes in many forms. Cantina has a zero-tolerance policy for theft. If you are caught stealing from Cantina, you will be immediately terminated without warning, no exceptions. It does not matter if it was intentional theft or not.

  • Examples of theft include, but are not limited to:
    • Taking money that's not yours- tips, house cash, etc.
    • Taking food, liquor or other items for sale home without paying or accounting for them.
    • Clocking in/out for a co-worker when they're late, not scheduled, etc.
    • Over/under pouring drinks to solicit a better tip, or otherwise transfer money to yourself rather than the business by means of incorrect ringing-in, pouring, or accounting for bar drinks.
    • Giving away food, liquor or other product without accounting for it or paying for it.  
    • Clocking in/out outside of your scheduled shift to gain more hours on your timecard.
    • Preparing food items that contain more product than is customary.
    • Allowing a friend to eat/drink for free or at a reduced cost.
    • Taking a co-workers personal belonging.
    • Any form of paycheck fraud.
    • Not tipping-out your co-worker properly
    • Removing or altering company computers, phones, iPads, printers, cameras, etc.


  • All Cantina restaurants are equipped with High-Definition PTZ video and audio surveillance recording 24/7. Every area of our properties, including walk-in refrigeration, basements, inside, outside (except inside restrooms) are recorded and monitored by owners and/or security companies remotely. Extra hidden cameras may also be placed to closely watch registers, safes, and other areas of high risk or concern.
  • Employees OPENING and CLOSING the restaurant should pay close attention to the restaurant.
      • check the integrity of the locks on doors before entering. 
      • Peak into the windows to make sure no one has entered off-hours or may be hiding/waiting inside.
      • Immediately lock the door behind you after entering. 
      • Do NOT let ANYONE into the restaurant who is not an employee or approved/regular vendor. This includes anyone requesting to use the restroom. Remember too, all our vendors will have their own keys.
      • Always count your money away from public view, even bartenders. Never count cash by a window, at the bar, or near the storefront.
      • If there are 3 employees or less inside the restaurant, the door is to remained locked at all times. The door may remain unlocked if we are open for business and there are more than 3 employees present.
  • Please remember to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings when leaving late night from a job at a bar. Particularly this is most important when carrying home cash tips, paychecks, or other large monetary amounts.
  • If there is any incident involving a fight, theft, or other incident that jeopardizes the immediate safety of other guests in the restaurant, call 911 immediately. 
  • Keys to the restaurant are carefully monitored, logged, and assigned by the owners to those with a specific need only. No manager or other person besides a direct owner of the company is to issue a key to another person, vendor, or employee.
  • Managers are to deposit nightly house-cash into secured safes. These are emptied daily and contain minimal cash at any given time.
  • In the event of a robbery:
    • remain calm and comply with any request of the robber
    • remember they are likely not getting much money and we will never lose more than your safety is worth. Money and material items are replaceable, you are not.
    • do not attempt to restrain the robber
    • when the robber has left, immediately lock the doors, roller cage or other security device on the store front. Then call 911. Ask and witnesses to remain until police arrive and can get statements. Get their contact information if they must leave and had witnessed the event.
  • Only paying customers are allowed to use the restroom and only during operating business hours. Restrooms are single occupancy only, except children accompanied by a parent/guardian and the disabled who require the assistance of a caretaker.
  • Only employees are allowed in kitchens, basements, or behind the bar. No exceptions, not even for friends or family.

Substance Abuse & Drug Testing

General Policy (section added 11.17.2016)

  • 'Substance' refers to illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol. 'Abuse' refers to the impairment in social, work, or other inability to uphold standards normally required while working at Cantina as a result of using a substance.
  • No alcohol or illegal drug consumption is to take place while on the clock by any employee.
    • If you clock out and remain at the restaurant, you are subject to the same serving guidelines as a regular customer would. You must always remain a professional appearance and attitude at Cantina so long as employed by Cantina, even if off the clock.
      • This also includes bartenders consuming alcohol, even shots, during their shift.
      • Prescriptions must be in your name, in its original labeled container. Although, you do not have to disclose why or the condition for which you are required to take a Rx drug. Being transparent with management is the best policy when it comes to prescription drugs. If the drug makes you unable to perform your work duties, you should call-out or go home 'sick'.
  • Any employee, regardless of position held, who violates the substance abuse policy will have their employment terminated immediately. There are no warnings or suspension options.

Drug Testing

  • Cantina does not routinely ask for drug or substance testing.
  • It may be required to take a drug-test following an injury or incident that took place on the clock or while on the property of the restaurant (e.g. you clock out, and fall on the way out the door).
  • If you are asked to take a drug test for any reason, you will be notified in writing and must do so as a condition of continued employment. Cantina will pay for any requested drug testing.

Employee Meal Policy

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