I’ve never worked at a restaurant, but I know some people that have worked at one… I’ve also eaten at a lot of restaurants. What can I say? I like food. And this experience gives me the right to ask, “why don’t restaurants pay its employees a decent wage?”
The federal minimum wage for tipped workers, such as servers, is $2.13 per hour, and has been so since 1991. This is pure insanity. How can somebody make ends meet making $2.13 an hour?
I understand that tips could make up for the low wages, but not every server makes money from tips. If you are a server and are scheduled to work during the slow hours, you are out of luck.
Because of this, servers experience almost three times the poverty rate of the workforce as a whole. Servers also rely on food stamps at nearly double the rate as the general population.
I really don’t understand how restaurant owners have been able to get away with overcharging their customers, us, while paying their employees next to nothing. We, the customers, not only have to pay extra for the food at restaurants but we also have to pay for the servers’ wages in order for the servers to be able to pay their bills.
Don’t get me wrong, you should always tip 20% for decent to good service – I always do – because this is how servers make their wages. This is not a post about skimping on tipping, this is more of rant against restaurant owners not paying their employees a fair wage.
Luckily, there’s a new restaurant in Philadelphia in which its owners are going to do what every restaurant owner should do – pay its employees a livable wage.
Philadelphia Restaurant Doing The Right Thing
Chef Brian Oliveira and co-owner Cristian Mora of Girard Brasserie and Bruncherie are not only going to pay their employees an average of $13 per hour, but they’re also going to offer them four paid vacation days for every six months of work, as well as some paid sick days.
But wait! There’s more.
Oliviera and Mora are also going to offer full health care benefits for their employees. And, they will incorporate profit sharing, where employees have the opportunity to make higher hourly wages based on the restaurant’s success.
And the good thing is: tips are not necessary.
The statement below is from their website.
TIPPING IS NOT NECESSARY
All dishes will be priced accordingly in order to provide full health care benefits, paid sick days & vacations, and better wages for all staff. In the case you choose to leave a gratuity for exceptional service, all monies will go directly to your server.
This is good news for everybody.
It will obviously be good for the employees, but it will also be good for the owners who will have a much happier, a more knowledgeable, and a more loyal staff. By paying their staff more, the owners will reduce turnover and will attract a more highly-skilled staff.
In an interview with Think Progress, Oliviera said, “We’re attracting people who want to expand their career in the restaurant industry, it’s not just a short-term thing.”
We will also benefit because we will get a much better service (potentially). Nobody wants to be served by an unhappy employee. And we’ll finally going to know how much our meal is really going to cost. What you see on the menu is what you pay. No more calculating tips. “Do they deserve 10%, 15% or 20%? What’s 15% of $23.75?”
Will It Cost More?
More than what? Prices of food are very different from restaurant to restaurant, but Mora said that prices will be 10 to 30% higher than similar restaurants. The thing is, we are the ones who choose to go there and pay those prices. The same way we choose to either go to Olive Garden for dinner or go to a certain NYC restaurant where they charge $225 per person… I’m looking at you Eleven Madison Park.
But whether we go there or not, the servers will still get paid for being at work. Unlike other restaurants, where servers sometimes get nothing because people didn’t want to go out to eat that day.
I don’t know about you, but there are days that I have nothing to do at work and I get paid the same as those days where I have a lot of work. If it works for us, it should work for them.
And did I mention Girard Brasserie and Bruncherie is BYOB? That means a lot of savings on booze… for those who like some wine with their dinner.
I also don’t think it would cost more if the whole country adopts this mentality. This is the way it is in a lot of countries and food is not more expensive in those countries. Au contraire, food is often cheaper than in the U.S. See what I did there? The Philly restaurant is French so I used some French, ooh la la. No? okay.
The No-tipping Movement is Growing
Girard is not the first restaurant to follow the European style of paying their servers a livable wage, and hopefully won’t be the last.
There are a few restaurants in NYC, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Kentucky (to name a few) that have adopted this route. We just have to see if more and more restaurants step-up and do the right thing.
I’m not suggesting all restaurants should provide health benefits and paid vacation days (which are nice), but they should at least pay their employees a little more than two dollars and thirteen cents per hour.
Do you think restaurant owners should pay their employees a livable wage?