The New Normal " How do we survive" In the new world!

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The new $15 min wage law is going to push hundreds and thousands of restaurants to innovate. The new law will put an extra labor charge on a small diner of 5 employees to about $200 more per 8 hr shift. Just think of what this does to the casual dining restaurant that has 20 employees. Hows does that restaurant make up $800 in extra labor per 8 hr shift. I don’t think people really see what this is going to do to the restaurant industry. I can see a big overhaul of how things get done. If you have employees they will be making more $$$ but working less hours. I think innovation would have happened anyway, it just wouldn’t happen as fast as it will now. Business will find a way of pushing out employees. That being said, I can only see less money in employees pockets while the business owners try to stay in business. I think with this new min wage your going to see more working chefs with more pressure on them use less and less labor. I’m wondering who would ever hire a high school kid and think you could justify $17.50 including employer taxes. I wouldn’t start dancing in the street anytime soon. The good news is, the min wage went up, the bad news is you lost your job. I wonder where this puts your Sous Chef that was making $15 are they now at $20. Where does it put the Chef that was making $20 and they now at $25 an hr. I’m not sure where this stops and who wins. The food truck driver that was making $15 an hr do they now make $20 an hr. How does the food company not raise food prices where all the people that it takes to get the product to the restaurant wages go up. I know in my business over the years I always cut labor over 50% by designing things to get the job done with less people. I made it so one person did the job of what two people did in the business I took over. I thought out every position and made the operation efficient and profitable. I had some of the old employees that couldn’t never see how they could do more work. I build a menu that would require less prep and more sales. I put in self-service areas that cut out employees. Now for my question to all the Chefs, Managers and owners ? What can you see happening in your business that would farm out some of the prep that would allow you to have a lower labor cost while still maintaining a quality kitchen. I can see a Chef having all or a lot of the daily prep now coming in to the kitchen already done. Can a kitchen afford to have in-house people making dressings, salsa, stocks, custom cut meats and fish. Can they afford to make soups and any in-house baking and desserts made at low cost. Are we going to hire out for after service kitchen cleaning. Are the day of welcome to McDonalds done by the iPad with a big smiley face. I know if I were to build a restaurant in tomorrows world I would take every inch of that operation into consideration to be a labor saving operation. The dining room would be an open concept with kitchen and dining combined. Everything would be done fast to serve people using less people and turning over tables faster. To make a long story short, the employee will not get richer, the employer who wants to stay in business will have to think smarter. If you thought you had less service today just wait until tomorrow. This business just got harder and it’s going to take a much smarter approach to succeed. I see a lot of smaller businesses that already have a low margin bottom line profit impossible to stay in business and succeed. ………..Chef Bill
 
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The only or biggest advantage to this... Should make the work ethic/standards higher..

Head chefs or managers will be keeping a closer on their employees. Standing around, sitting on your phone or taking multiple breaks probably will be greatly reduced ..

Those who already work hard and don't slack off should appreciate this; no longer are they doing the majority of the work. Those who slack off will be doing more work and as a result the work load should be much more even for employees ...
 
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I have been saying the same thing for awhile, and I have been thinking a lot about wages.  I do think it's just a matter of time til we see a $15 min wage, or close to it.  A lot of things ChefBillyB says have been on my mind as well, and part of it goes back to the thread about changes to salary.  In my restaurant now I have been mulling over ideas; do we close from 2-5 (after lunch but before dinner) to save labor?  Do I start coming in earlier to take over some of the prep duties?  Do I pare the menu back to just one single page?  Do I start buying all the dressings and most of the desserts, keeping just a couple really popular items that involve minimal pres (eg creme brule and zeppole)?

The day to day operations will have to change.  In my somewhat smaller operation an expo is probably going to become a luxury we can't afford.  Maybe the owner will expo for a couple hours on the weekend.

We don't have a $15 min yet but here in MN even servers make $9/hour.
 
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Interesting topic. 

I'm hoping that this minimum wage increase will create standardization in our industry.

If I, as an owner or Chef want to get the most out of my labor force, I'm going to make sure that they are competent, motivated and able to multi-task.

That being said, hiring only certified cooks and Chefs would weed out the has beens and wanna bee's.

I realize that this would turn our industry on its' ear but, it would certainly solve a lot of problems with quality help and saving labor dollar.
 
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Interesting topic. 

I'm hoping that this minimum wage increase will create standardization in our industry.

If I, as an owner or Chef want to get the most out of my labor force, I'm going to make sure that they are competent, motivated and able to multi-task.

That being said, hiring only certified cooks and Chefs would weed out the has beens and wanna bee's.

I realize that this would turn our industry on its' ear but, it would certainly solve a lot of problems with quality help and saving labor dollar.
I agree 100% chef! The problem I had in past operations was that I couldn't find qualified help. In a lot of cases I had to hire two employees to do the job of one good one. When I started my own business I took over operations that were really labor intense. One operation had over 20 employees, after I took it over we had 10. They stayed open from 2-5, I closed. I some 24 hr operations I closed from 2PM to 4PM and 10PM to 2AM. Thats a big cut in labor with losing very little sales. 

  Chefross and Phaedrus    I'm wondering if there will be other business opportunities that will come up to make the restaurant operation more streamlined. We know we have two controllable factors, labor cost and food cost. I'm trying to figure out if some of the prep can be purchased already prepped. If you look at NYC there are specialized meat companies that take your specs and grind meat, cut steaks, chops, sausage and so on, to meet your requirements. What if there was a place that could do all your prep with sauces, gravy, stocks, and dressings. What if all the cooks did was come in one hour before service and went home right after service. Then a hired cleaning team names in to clean the kitchen. I think it time to rethink our operation by the hour. If you save one hour a days doing this. If we save one hour of a $15 wage plus taxes is $17.25 per hour saved. The one hour saved will result in $6,210.00 per year. I agree with you, dead weight in the kitchen is a thing of the past. 
 
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A cleaning team??
An outside butcher to cut your steaks, etc. ???

If min. wage is 15$ an hour, what you think the cleaning team is being paid hourly? 8$
If your min wage is 15$, all business around you is 15$ min wage.....

Unless maybe you're hiring companies from another state? Must be really cheap labor if they can drive to another state to clean a restaurant every night....
 
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lol another company to do all your prep? lol have you ever worked in a restaurant? The reason they pay the cooks like poop is so the cooks can do the tasks like cleaning and prepping for less money than it would take to hire outside help..

The cleaning company still has to make a profit. So does a company that preps your food; if they gotta pay employees 15$ / hr and still make profit.... What you think they're gonna charge the restaurant? $18-$20 an hour for their labor, at the least..
 
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Here's a company in NYC that could do all the restaurants speciality meat cutting needs. http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives...sale-meats-factory-tour-west-village-nyc.html

There are many reasons to outsource labor, money isn't all of them. A restaurants may want to hire a Chef on the front line and have two less cooks. They may not want to put the kitchen cleaning on the Chefs list of chores. If you hire quality people you can outsource the mundane chores. To answer your question if I have ever worked in this business. Over 34 years and 24 restaurants, I have a good idea of how things work.
 
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Min. Wage here is $10.45,(cdn, that is) with increases scheduled every so often.

Some places put their employees on salary. Nothing new, I think everyone here has worked salary, you get worked to death, earning less than min. wage, but you do get a paycheck every month. When I worked in Europe, there was no hourly wages, just salary, every one from dishwashers to chef de service.

Last month our building tendered for new janitorial sevices. Lowest bid won, a mom'n pop team. Don't know how many hours they put in, just that the work they agreed to do is done--the trash cans are on the sidewalk before the trucks come, and are put away after the truck leaves.

I also know of a few enterprising pastry chefs who work for themselves. They get a deal with a restaurant to provide X portions of this, Y portions of that. Rest. supplies ingredients and pays them evey two weeks. Their salad guy does the plating. Still a big difference in quality from opening up a box or bag,
 
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I think you have a good point, ChefBilly.  I cut nearly all the meat at my place, and what I don't cut the Sous chef does.  There's no one else on staff competent to do it.  We're not a steak house so it doesn't take much of my week to cut all the beef I need (generally less than a case of top butts, a few pork loins, three or four ribeyes, three or four PSMOs a week).  But we might have to reexamine a lot of stuff if the wages go to $15.  Probably be time to buy burgers pre-pattied at least, maybe round out our soups with a couple of frozen bagged ones, etc.  On one level I could have the bulk of prep done by the Sous and I but at the end of the year he will have to revert to hourly (thanks Obama!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif) so that wouldn't necessarily gain that much. Well, except that what he can do in an hour takes one of the other cooks three hours or more.

The regulatory environment will become more challenging but I am not completely pessimistic.  While I think a $15 min wage is going too far it wouldn't be the death knell for businesses. After all it's not like it would only affect my restaurant.  We'd have to raise prices of course but so would everyone else.  The Dollar Menu will become the $1.50/$2.00 menu, etc.  Costs of the wage increases would be passed along across the board but it wouldn't be total inflation since not everything is reliant on min wage labor. For instance your iPhone is made in a sweatshop by a guy making five bucks a day- he's not getting any bump from min wage.  Since so few consumer goods are made in America anymore the prices of goods won't rise across the board.  Retail prices and B&M stores will rise a bit with wages but the larger internet vendors are often located in places where wages are higher to begin with.  Shippers like UPS, FedEX and the USPS don't have a ton of min wage workers nor do airlines. The petrol industry isn't going to take a big hit, either.

So while we will have some inflation I expect that consumer spending power will increase more than the rate of inflation.  So there will probably be a bit of a bump once things shake out.

The big losers will be kids and those with minimal skills.  There'd be little reason to pay a 16 year old $15 when you could hire a relatively skilled adult for the same money.  As wages increase the lowest skilled positions won't get wage increases, they'll be eliminated completely. 
 
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I think you have a good point, ChefBilly.  I cut nearly all the meat at my place, and what I don't cut the Sous chef does.  There's no one else on staff competent to do it.  We're not a steak house so it doesn't take much of my week to cut all the beef I need (generally less than a case of top butts, a few pork loins, three or four ribeyes, three or four PSMOs a week).  But we might have to reexamine a lot of stuff if the wages go to $15.  Probably be time to buy burgers pre-pattied at least, maybe round out our soups with a couple of frozen bagged ones, etc.  On one level I could have the bulk of prep done by the Sous and I but at the end of the year he will have to revert to hourly (thanks Obama!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif) so that wouldn't necessarily gain that much. Well, except that what he can do in an hour takes one of the other cooks three hours or more.

The regulatory environment will become more challenging but I am not completely pessimistic.  While I think a $15 min wage is going too far it wouldn't be the death knell for businesses. After all it's not like it would only affect my restaurant.  We'd have to raise prices of course but so would everyone else.  The Dollar Menu will become the $1.50/$2.00 menu, etc.  Costs of the wage increases would be passed along across the board but it wouldn't be total inflation since not everything is reliant on min wage labor. For instance your iPhone is made in a sweatshop by a guy making five bucks a day- he's not getting any bump from min wage.  Since so few consumer goods are made in America anymore the prices of goods won't rise across the board.  Retail prices and B&M stores will rise a bit with wages but the larger internet vendors are often located in places where wages are higher to begin with.  Shippers like UPS, FedEX and the USPS don't have a ton of min wage workers nor do airlines. The petrol industry isn't going to take a big hit, either.

So while we will have some inflation I expect that consumer spending power will increase more than the rate of inflation.  So there will probably be a bit of a bump once things shake out.

The big losers will be kids and those with minimal skills.  There'd be little reason to pay a 16 year old $15 when you could hire a relatively skilled adult for the same money.  As wages increase the lowest skilled positions won't get wage increases, they'll be eliminated completely. 
I agree, I would run the place using myself and my Sous. The cooks would come in at service and close. This worked out for me in the past. I feel it's not only time to rethink the BOH but, the FOH will really get a makeover. Just think of paying a hostess $15, busboys $15, I can also see waitstaff taking on more tables. My question is, what does the Minimum wage do to all other wages Like if your Sous was already making $15 per hr, would they now be making Min wage??? This is where I see things getting a bit twisted. 
 
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"If your sous was making $15/hr will he now be making minimum wage?"

No. He would expect a raise. As would line cooks .
I don't know ANY decent line cooks that would accept minimum wage.
I also don't know ANY decent line cook that would accept the same hourly pay as the bus boy.....

Every decent employee would expect a raise above $15/hr if that's the min. wage.
 
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LOL. This is getting crazy. The day a worker tells a boss they should be making more than someone else is the day they should look for alternate employment. You need to only worry about yourself and be happy you are employed. Attitudes that include, "I'm not working for only minimum wage." make it easier to shorten pay-rolls. When $15 is probably $5 more than "decent cooks" are getting now, I don't think there is any room for conversation. That's just Me I guess. YMMV.
 
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So you would bust your butt in the BOH at $15/hr. (more like 12$ after taxes) while the FOH makes $15/hr from the restaurant and then another $50+ an hour from tips....

You would continue to think 15/hr is fine? No thanks.

I have no problem working for wages that aren't even enough to make a living.... However, I have a major problem working for minimum wage.... Given the fact that I paid thousands of dollars and years of my life to go to culinary school, if nothing else. Not everyone can say that, so min. wage is not for me. Even if it was $30/hr next year. I would expect $35/hr..:
 
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Do you still think guests will pay 15-20%tips when they know the server is getting $15/hr?

But I'm curious, did you work in the hospitality industry prior to going to culinary school?

Its just that every employer I've ever known in the the 35-odd years I've worked in this industry bases their pay rate on experience. Which basically means if you have O working experience prior to culinary school, and don't work during school, then you have O experience upon graduation, and will--in all likelyhood, be earning min. wage in your first year
 
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People tip now even if they think the waiter/waitress did a poor job of serving them....

Why would they not tip after hearing the hourly wage is $15.... Even if the service was bad. I don't think tips will stop and I don't think tips will stop as an expectation until restaurants say "No Tips". Even people who don't want to tip now a days feel they have to. People feel they will be looked down on for not tipping, even for bad service .
 
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You never watch the people at the end of their meal? We have an open kitchen and sometimes I will watch people after they get the bill, when they go to tip....

It's not at all uncommon to see people, very apparently, base their tip on who is watching them and how obligated they feel to make sure the server is getting their wages....

It's not common practice to base tips on the level of service received, it's just not.
 
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You never watch the people at the end of their meal? We have an open kitchen and sometimes I will watch people after they get the bill, when they go to tip....

It's not at all uncommon to see people, very apparently, base their tip on who is watching them and how obligated they feel to make sure the server is getting their wages....

It's not common practice to base tips on the level of service received, it's just not.
That's not even close to being true. Everyone I know including me gives a basic 15% at most casual dining restaurants. When I go to upscale restaurants and the service is better than good I leave 20 to 25%. This happens with nobody watching. I think you see what you want to see.......
 
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I'm thinking 17.
How old are you mdm?
So you would bust your butt in the BOH at $15/hr.
LOL. I bust my butt in the BOH for $100/shift. You know why?!? Because I'm that good. I've always got work. I work a "shift" whether it's 4-hrs or 14-hrs. The boss called me because he needed a fire put out. At the end of the shift, NO kitchen clean-up included, I get a $100-handshake. None of my plates came back. The FOH says, "Thanks for your specials.". The BOH says, "Thanks for covering our asses. ... See you next time.". Go look up "WORK ETHIC".




"We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery."
 
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