Steve Lewis Responds to Claims Made Against Gideon's Bakehouse

Steve Lewis Responds to Claims Made Against Gideon’s Bakehouse

Gideon’s Bakehouse is the topic of many Disney-centric discussions. Before last week, most of those conversations were glowing. But then an anonymous Instagram accused the bakery of unfair workplace treatment. Steve Lewis, Gideon’s founder and owner, responded with a quick denial, promising a more detailed response would be coming. Today, he made true on that promise.

Steve Lewis’ complete statement


I’m talking about the thing. I never dreamed we, of all places, would be here. We just want to make cookies and tell stories. We are not a dramatic workplace or social space. There’s nothing secret behind the curtains. What you see is what you get. Y’all know I keep negativity away from my socials. For a week, I let everyone support, outrage, argue, and fight, mostly uninterrupted, but I’m pulling things back in today. If you still have an issue or doubt, I’m just a DM on IG away. Ok. Here we go…

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 de-escalate things, I’d still like to briefly address a few topics.

Pay: If you’re not sitting in front of us accepting a position, it’s NYB. 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 1 sincerely apologize to this manager. You and your family didn’t deserve to read such a thing.

The CEO Fat Cat: I want to bring this up because it’s 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 stores knows that I only have three job requirements. Quality Control. Keep the Store Handsome. Treat Everyone Like Family and Friends. That last one works towards 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.

Thanks for letting me say some things. Gideon’s isn’t perfect -nothing is. But wow, do we really 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.


While some are praising Steve’s candid response, many are upset with his “NYB” (not your business) comment concerning employee pay. Peter Sciretta, one half of the Ordinary Adventures duo, was not impressed:

“Steve, big fan of Gideon’s and your cookies. I don’t believe you are a bad guy, I’ve talked to you before and you seem really grounded and down to earth. But the NYB comment comes off as dismissive. Be part of the solution. Gideons should be better than everyone else and you know it. Do better.”

That sentiment was shared by many in the post’s comments. Most Gideon’s employees are paid $8.98 an hour plus tips.

@ghostsofgideons’ response

@ghostsofgideons responded with dictionary definitions of “narcissist” and “gaslight.” They concluded their post with the following:

“To the scores of past and current employees who have corroborated our claims in the comments, through Glassdoor reviews, and personal testimony through DM – Thank You. Despite the narcissistic behavior and rampant gaslighting, which dismiss and label our claims incorrectly as ‘misleading’, or ‘false’, your voices help the truth shine free.

“If you, or someone you know is suffering through emotional and psychological abuse, you are not alone. Help is available. Visit CrisisTextLine.org or Text 741741.”

Last week, @ghostsofgideons shared that Gideon’s employees were joining UNITE HERE Local 362, a union that represents many Walt Disney World employees.