The restaurant industry has been brought to its knees during the coronavirus crisis. Those that are reopening are facing uncertain times. However, many industry leaders are calling the crisis an opportunity to change the way restaurants are run. One San Francisco restaurant is seizing that opportunity and paying it’s employees higher salaries.
Chef-owner of Sons & Daughters, Teague Moriarty, has spent lockdown reimagining his Michelin star restaurant, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The means a new dining room, a new menu and a new way of doing business.
The critically acclaimed chef is significantly increasing his kitchen staffs’ wages. Once Sons & Daughters reopens, employees will earn a minimum of $65,000 per year, with salaries topping out at $90,000. Benefits will include two weeks’ paid vacations, unlimited sick pay and fully-paid health insurance, and staff will evenly split 50% of the profits. Tipping will be replaced with an 18% service charge, which will go toward salaries and benefits.
“How can we make this more the restaurant we want it to be?” Moriarty told SF Chronicle. “I’m sick of hearing people complain about the state of the industry and still pay people minimum wage. This is a time of change.”
Before coronavirus hit, half of the 14 staff members were part-time, but now there will be nine full-time, salaried staff on the payroll.
It may seem like a risky strategy in such challenging times, but Moriarty tells the SF Chronicle that the restaurant can be profitable if they fill every seat, every day, with social distancing measures in place. Extra costs will fall on the customer and prices will rise. The tasting menu price will go up from $145 to $175, and wine pairings from $95 to $115. The chef believes there is goodwill on the part of diners, who will be willing to pay more to eat in a restaurant that nurtures its staff.
The restaurant community in San Francisco and in cities around the world will be watching Sons & Daughters closely. The hope is that they prove a more humane, sustainable business model can be implemented and the restaurant can thrive.
“It feels like we’re opening a new restaurant,” said Moriarty. “We’re all excited and pumped.”
Watch this space.