Milwaukee Honeypie, Palomino Bar and SmallPie restaurants pay workers “a fair wage” as they resume table service after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three restaurants are part of a national trend to narrow pay gaps in the service sector.
All non-managerial employees at the three restaurants now receive higher hourly wages. The income from tips is now pooled between room and room workers and distributed according to the hours worked.
Valeri Lucks, founder and CEO of the restaurant group, said the pandemic of restaurant and dining room closures gave her the opportunity to rework the pay structure. The aim was to reduce the pay gap between people who traditionally receive tips like waiters and those who don’t, like cooks.
During dinner service on a Friday night, an experienced waiter at Honeypie would make between $ 25 and $ 35 an hour with tips, Lucks said. A senior cook would earn about $ 18 an hour. The use of tips has also encouraged waiters to take high-volume shifts and avoid slower periods.
The base salary for reception staff now starts at $ 10, down from $ 2. Salaries for administrative staff start at $ 10 an hour after training. The idea is, over time and with tips, to increase the salaries of all experienced staff by $ 20 to $ 25 an hour, Lucks said.
Lucks said she didn’t like the long-standing system, especially the wedge it created between workers who earned tips and those who didn’t.
“The pandemic has given us a chance to finally do it,” she said.
Lucks said the company started moving to this model last year when restaurants reopened for take-out. It had to reduce the staff from 112 to 26 employees.
“At that point, we all had to change jobs,” Lucks said. “We were all in the same boat.”
All three establishments are slowly hiring workers again. The group now has around 55 employees, Lucks said.
Restaurants follow the national organization A fair wageadvice on improving wages and working conditions in the service sector. The group is also a member of Main road restaurants, a national restaurant network that campaigns for fair wages and greater racial and gender equity.
Bavette La Boucherie, Bounce Milwaukee and DanDan are also members of High Road Restaurants.
Honeypie, Palomino and SmallPie will likely reopen indoor restaurants in September, Lucks said.