A restaurant owner raised her staff’s starting pay to $25 an hour. She hasn’t had a problem finding workers since.
As restaurants continue to struggle to fill open positions, some owners have realized one (seemingly obvious) solution: raising employees’ baseline wages. After reopening her Manhattan restaurant, Dirt Candy, for indoor dining this past May, chef-owner Amanda Cohen increased her staff’s starting pay to $25 across the board, Business Insider reports, with raises based on tenure, along with paid time off and health insurance. Cohen, who had already instituted a no-tipping model in 2015, says that in order to afford the raises, she hiked menu prices by roughly 30 percent to offset the increased cost of labor. In addition, Cohen streamlined the menu to a single five-course tasting menu to cut down on her food costs. Staffing hasn’t been an issue for the restaurant, and customers are dining in at roughly pre-pandemic levels. Other restaurants not ready to commit to higher wages are experimenting with other ways to make the grueling industry more humane, including shorter workweeks, helping with student debt, or providing more affordable health-care premiums.