Protections for opening chef

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Ronald Fan, May 14, 2019.

  1. Ronald Fan

    Ronald Fan

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    I am exploring an opportunity to be an opening chef at a small 45 seat casual Neapolitan pizza/wine bar concept. It will be a new build out.

    I'm negotiating terms with the owner and am looking for advice. We have not worked together before but he is a coffee roasters with a couple of reputable coffee shops where I know the employees and they say he's great to work for.

    I've read a lot of older posts on here that advise owners to avoid partnerships cause they are messy. I tend to agree and would be happy with a deal that includes a competitive salary and profit sharing.

    However, I have also heard stories of chefs who put in blood ,sweat and tears and are fired once the restaurant is up and running, before he/she can reap any of the benefits.

    I'm curious what ways there are (if any) to counter malicious behavior like that? Is negotiating for some ownership stake the answer? Are there other ways?

    Thanks
     
  2. someday

    someday

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    That sounds like a fun opportunity!

    IANAL, but yes, I would think having an ownership stake is a surefire way to ensure that you can't be summarily fired from your job.

    I suppose you could try negotiating some sort of clause in a contract that would render you "unfireable" for x amount of time (unless the offense is egregious enough--say, violence, sexual harassment, theft, etc) but I think that would be difficult.

    The "salary and profit sharing" idea sounds like the easy road, but I don't think that would offer you any protection other than what the law currently protects from. In other words, I assume the owner could still fire you at will.

    One thing I'll add, whatever you guys end up agreeing on, make sure you get a lawyer to look it over before you sign.
     
  3. Ronald Fan

    Ronald Fan

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    Thanks for the response. Yes, I'm definitely lawyering up. Trying to get a feel for the situation in this forum cause at the end of the day these my terms to negotiate and the lawyer is there to dot the I's
     
  4. halb

    halb

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    That would be the way to go and I would consult with an attorney about it before even mentioning it to the owners. If he or she feels that it is possible have them draw up the papers. Let's see how easy they really are to work for. If they won't have any of it you don't need them.
     
  5. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Yeah....Lawyers......
    If it ever gets to that stage it’s pretty much guaranteed that you won’t have the money to take it to court—or even pay for said lawyer, let alone getting any money.

    The most successful partnerships are the ones where both partners know and have worked with each other before. The second best is with a spouse or family member.

    Just my observations from 30+ years in this biz....
     
  6. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    You say you are exploring the opportunity to be opening chef. You don't say what the owner's opinion is.
    Why not leave it at that. Be the opening chef. Sign for a specific salary for a specific period of time. Lay out expectations for hours, pay, time off, etc. When the contract is up, you know the situation better, what this guy is like to work with, potential for growth, etc. Then you can both decide to continue together under a new contract or go your separate ways.
    Maybe it's just me but I always get a chuckle when someone says they are expecting profit sharing from a new restaurant. From my experience, there isn't much profit. Better to get a confirmed salary up front. Then you have to get paid, however the owner comes up with the money.
    A couple of years ago I was approached about a situation with a sports bar/pub, to be GM/Chef and basically create the whole shebang from scratch (building renovation, construction, regulations, menu planning, etc.) After some general discussion and no mention of money from the other side, I simply said "Yes, I'll do it, but it will cost you $75,000 for a year of my time."
    Oddly enough, the phone stopped ringing.