Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Chefs' high hopes, low pay...


eje
 Share

Recommended Posts

Chefs' high hopes, low pay leave S.F. restaurants starved for help, Tara Duggan

Across the country, restaurant owners complain of staffing shortages. Many partly blame the newly glamorous role of chefs in the media, which has created a legion of chef-wannabes. But San Francisco's high cost of living, minimum wage laws and new sick leave and health insurance mandates mean that restaurants are being hit harder here than in other cities...a restaurant in San Francisco would pay $285,696 for a dining room staff of 12, while a New York restaurant would only pay $128,064.

Tone here a bit strident. "S.F.'s future as a great restaurant town is imperiled as kitchen workers don't make enough money to live in the Bay Area." Is this really accurate?

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the language may be abit strong but the problem is real, and a huge consideration when choosing a place of business

Chefs' high hopes, low pay leave S.F. restaurants starved for help, Tara Duggan

Across the country, restaurant owners complain of staffing shortages. Many partly blame the newly glamorous role of chefs in the media, which has created a legion of chef-wannabes. But San Francisco's high cost of living, minimum wage laws and new sick leave and health insurance mandates mean that restaurants are being hit harder here than in other cities...a restaurant in San Francisco would pay $285,696 for a dining room staff of 12, while a New York restaurant would only pay $128,064.

Tone here a bit strident. "S.F.'s future as a great restaurant town is imperiled as kitchen workers don't make enough money to live in the Bay Area." Is this really accurate?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's no question that a restaurant should take the cost of doing business into consideration when considering the community they open in.

A lot of factors, including wages, make doing business in a city like San Francisco or New York difficult.

I just don't quite understand the point of the article.

Is it that cooks should be paid fair wages in accordance with the cost of living in the community they live and work in?

Doesn't seem like it.

That waiters should be paid less than the minimum wage, because of the amounts of tips they make?

The median wage for waiters is really $30 an hour!?

Brian Clevenger, 22, came from Seattle to work at Delfina, a highly regarded chef-owned restaurant in the Mission District, because he heard it was a good place to build his skills. Because he and his girlfriend couldn't afford rent in the parts of the city where they wanted to live, they moved into a studio apartment in South San Francisco that cost $1,300 a month.

To trot out my old saw: I worked as a line cook in Berkeley when we first moved to San Francisco. I had a more than 45 minute commute both ways on public transportation. Our rent was $1200 a month and I was making far less than $10-15 an hour currently paid most line cooks. My wife wasn't making much more. We figured it out because we wanted to live and work in California.

To me, the elephants loitering in the room of this article, are the Latino workers who form the bulk of the workforce and often work 2 or three jobs to make ends meet. Do restaurants even pay them minimum wage?

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's no question that a restaurant should take the cost of doing business into consideration when considering the community they open in.

A lot of factors, including wages, make doing business in a city like San Francisco or New York difficult.

I just don't quite understand the point of the article.

Is it that cooks should be paid fair wages in accordance with the cost of living in the community they live and work in?

Doesn't seem like it.

That waiters should be paid less than the minimum wage, because of the amounts of tips they make?

The median wage for waiters is really $30 an hour!?

Brian Clevenger, 22, came from Seattle to work at Delfina, a highly regarded chef-owned restaurant in the Mission District, because he heard it was a good place to build his skills. Because he and his girlfriend couldn't afford rent in the parts of the city where they wanted to live, they moved into a studio apartment in South San Francisco that cost $1,300 a month.

To trot out my old saw: I worked as a line cook in Berkeley when we first moved to San Francisco. I had a more than 45 minute commute both ways on public transportation. Our rent was $1200 a month and I was making far less than $10-15 an hour currently paid most line cooks. My wife wasn't making much more. We figured it out because we wanted to live and work in California.

To me, the elephants loitering in the room of this article, are the Latino workers who form the bulk of the workforce and often work 2 or three jobs to make ends meet. Do restaurants even pay them minimum wage?

well some of our waitstaff make more than me in gratuities alone, plus the minimum wage on top, the hourly rate is somewhere 25- 45 dollars, plus minimum wage, and as far as paying mexican workers, even if a worker is illegal you must pay and compensate them like every other worker, further more if you dont you face action from the state for discrimination, i would love to go to straight service charge and distribute equally, but no waitstaff wants to share the wealth, and with profitability margins so low in restaurants already , the increases make it more difficult to dole out raises to kitchen including myself

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, I know it's the law.

When working at a well known Bay Area Cafe, (which shall remain nameless,) the first time I worked overtime I noticed time and a half was not reflected on my pay. Being a good hard working Midwestern transplant, I figured, surely, this must be a mistake. No restaurant wouldn't pay overtime.

I took my paycheck to the owner of the restaurant and pointed out the foul up. They said, "Oh, no, that's not a mistake. We let our employees work more than 40 hours so they can have the extra money, but, we can't afford to pay anyone time and a half."

Let me point out again, this was at a well known, owner run Cafe which had been in business for more than 5 years and is still in business now, 10 years later. Not some fly by night, johnny come lately, take the money and run joint.

We did eventually get our overtime money, but I expect that there is a lot of cash or under the counter employment going on, in some quarters.

Also, I shouldn't have just said Latino workers, as I've heard, the way some Asian restaurants are staffed is very interesting.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chefs' high hopes, low pay leave S.F. restaurants starved for help, Tara Duggan
Across the country, restaurant owners complain of staffing shortages. Many partly blame the newly glamorous role of chefs in the media, which has created a legion of chef-wannabes. But San Francisco's high cost of living, minimum wage laws and new sick leave and health insurance mandates mean that restaurants are being hit harder here than in other cities...a restaurant in San Francisco would pay $285,696 for a dining room staff of 12, while a New York restaurant would only pay $128,064.

Tone here a bit strident. "S.F.'s future as a great restaurant town is imperiled as kitchen workers don't make enough money to live in the Bay Area." Is this really accurate?

The article seems to be rather confused, and there isn't really any point to it. On one end they're blaming cooking schools, on the other end they're blaming the government.

Anyhow, my thoughts... Cooking school is a complete and utter waste of time and money - you basically are paying top dollar so someone can train you to be a restaurant's line cook AKA bitch. You train a student, they work a few years for miminum wage in a restaurant (they're already invested in it, so they put up with it), then decide they can't afford it anymore, and leave. Rinse and repeat - always new low-paid staff. The worst part is, cooking school doesn't even give much of an education. I don't want to get started, but my experiences with fresh culinary school graduates have been a nightmare....(and I don't want to think about it again)

Governments - need to make the laws easier for restaurant owners. The way servers get paid is absolutely rediculous. Median wage $30/hour? Maybe in a shitty restaurant, or they just wanted to give a very conservative estimate. I've worked in a top restaurant where every server was making more than the executive chef. And it's very true - paying servers minimum wage means that theres less money to pay kitchen staff, and nowadays cooks just can't work for the amount restaurants can afford (not for more than a short time anyway).

But, restaurants also are to blame. I see the food some chefs are doing, and they're wasting money. I worked (very briefly) at one restaurant doing pastry, and 80 percent of my time was wasted doing absolutely useless, inedible garnishes because the chef thought they looked 'cool'. It was the same on the hotline - the food was nicely presented, but half the shit on the plate didn't need to be there. People were spending more time garnishing things than making them taste good. In the past, a good quality bistro/restaurant could get away with only having a few cooks, and maybe some part time assistants. Nowadays, you see kitchens that have half as many cooks as customers.

In the end though, if a restaurant wants to survive, it's up to it's owners. I've learned that government cannot be trusted whatsoever, and you can't get well trained cooks strait out of culinary school, so restaurants have to figure out a way to simplify operations, reduce costs, and increase wages so they can get the right people in there.

Edited by Mikeb19 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe it's been posted here and I have seen it elsewhere. At Charlie Trotters in Chicago the waitstaff turns all of their tips over to the house and receives a paycheck. From what I understand some of that tip money goes towards kitchen staff.

If all this is true I wonder if that is the future. I get the feeling if I was knocking down $30 an hour (skeptical about that, if you include family restaurants) I would still show up for $25. Who am I kidding I would show up for $20.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think C. Trotters method is the way to go.  Its a team effort, and its the best way to reflect that.

You want to start a war, tell that to a career waiter. I've worked in BOH all my life and I've given up trying to reason with people on this subject.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...