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Restaurant Opportunities Center card for restaurant owners and managers

Americans spend a lot of money eating in restaurants—75 percent of us eat out at least once a week. If you're a person who likes food or hates to cook but also doesn't like the fact that 19 percent of restaurant workers earn less than minimum wage, what are you to do?

Advocating for better policy is the most important thing, of course. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is just $2.13 an hour; if tips aren't enough to bring that up to $7.25 an hour, employers are supposed to make up the difference, but many do not. Increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers and passing paid sick leave laws are important moves; passing laws that crack down on wage theft is another.

But while changing the law would improve working conditions for the greatest number of restaurant workers, we can also try to have an effect as consumers. That's where the Restaurant Opportunities Center National Diners' Guide comes in. It includes information on the 150 most popular restaurants in the United States, as well as others that have especially good labor practices. Here's the bad news: If you eat in restaurants, it's a near certainty that you're eating in places with poverty pay and no sick days or opportunities for advancement. That's the average. Except for the chains that ROC is organizing against around discrimination and wage theft, the restaurants that stand out, stand out because they're better.

Nationally, Five Guys stands out as a good restaurant choice—the burger chain, in addition to being delicious, offers paid sick leave and opportunities for advancement, promoting at least 50 percent of its workers, and participates in a ROC Restaurant Industry Roundtable to promote a "high road to profitability." Among regional chains, In-N-Out offers paid sick days and pays a wage of at least $9 to all its employees, and Elephant Bar, which has restaurants in 10 states, pays $5 an hour to tipped workers and offers opportunities for advancement. Some other chains offer paid sick leave or opportunities for advancement, but beyond that, you're looking local. The local restaurants in the Diner's Guide are, understandably, concentrated in places where the Restaurant Opportunities Centers are organizing. If you're in New York City, Detroit or Ann Arbor, Michigan, Washington, DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, or several California locations, there may be options for you.

ROC also offers a consumer toolkit and tip cards for restaurant workers, owners, and managers that you can print out.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, German American Friendship Group, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Restaurant, restaurant...oh yeah (9+ / 0-)

    I remember those. I ate in one years ago. Can't afford them now.

  •  How can you promote at least 50% of your workers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    citizenx, devtob, doinaheckuvanutjob, BYw a hamburger restaurant? I'm asking out of genuine curiosity.

    Romney '12: Bully for America!

    by Rich in PA on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:37:48 AM PDT

    •  Have a bunch of titles? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, doinaheckuvanutjob
    •  You eat your own dog food and have high moblity (9+ / 0-)

      in the upward chain of management.

      Electronics Boutique before they got bought out by Gamestop had the same policy for awhile and prospered under it. Almost every single one of the top level management had come from working in a store very often start at the lowest levels.

      I should know, I started off as a key holder and finished as a district manager where I was recruited off to another business.

      --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

      by idbecrazyif on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:41:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's small promotions (7+ / 0-)

      For example, at 5 Guys, I believe if you envision their restaurant's employees, what you actually see is at least 2 different classifications - counter/cashier + fries/toppings, and then the grill guy, with the grill guy position being the highest level.  It's probably just a difference of $.25 - $.50 per hour. Also, I believe one of the workers is either a supervisor, or senior line position.

      Then, add in the fact that many of their employees are students and turnover in this industry for these type positions is a good 25% - 35%, I can see that at least 50% of their workers do get a promotion.

      Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

      by absdoggy on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:46:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  High turnover (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, JesseCW

      "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

      by CFAmick on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:50:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Five Guys (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, BYw

      is expanding like crazy. So, yeah, you get hired as a grunt in Store One, but when they open Store Two a couple miles down the road six months later, you get promoted to manager.

      The first Five Guys within 10 miles from me opened about two years ago. Then, one opened a year ago. And there's going to be another one open in a couple months. Good news is they keep getting closer and closer to my house :D

      "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

      by ChurchofBruce on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:34:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Five Guys has been doing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a gilas girl

      major expansion -- it's probably pretty common that someone who starts out as a cashier in one restaurant can get promoted to shift lead in another restaurant when one opens, especially if it's closer to his/her home -- or if the assistant manager leaves to take the manager's job at the new restaurant, that leaves his/her position open.

      Plus, if you're promoting from within rather than hiring folks with managerial experience to fill empty manager jobs, that also works.

      Mitt Romney: the Etch-A-Sketch candidate in the era of YouTube

      by Cali Scribe on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:43:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  High turnover. Which is fine, for that industry. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's a fun with numbers game.

      If most employees stay under two years, but most become "Leads" after six months....

      There's nothing necessarily wrong with that.  Five-Guys and In-N-Out both hire a lot of young people who are on their way to other things.  

      “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

      by JesseCW on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 11:36:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  by growing your chain (0+ / 0-)

      If the restaurant does well they have more opportunities to expand and then the management chain must grow.

  •  While we don't eat as much as we used to (5+ / 0-)

    It's good to hear my two favorite burger places Five guys and In and Out are doing well y their workers.

    Republican Family Values: Using the daughters from your first wife to convince everybody that your second wife is lying about your third wife.

    by jsfox on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:40:21 AM PDT

    •  Should read: eat out as much as we used to (0+ / 0-)

      sigh either too much coffee or not enough.

      Republican Family Values: Using the daughters from your first wife to convince everybody that your second wife is lying about your third wife.

      by jsfox on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:41:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wish that that In and Out would opne a few in (0+ / 0-)

      the Northeast.

      •  I'm waiting for one in St. Louis (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I make it a point to go to In-n-Out whenever I'm on the west coast. I'd love to have one here.

        They recently expanded to Texas. In-n-Out is slowly expanding out from the southwest, and Tim Hortons is slowly expanding out from the northeast. Hopefully they'll meet right here in the middle one of these days.

        "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

        by yg17 on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 08:07:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  They don't have the supply chain there, and they (0+ / 0-)

        won't open without it.

        They finally got arrangements made to purchase beef in Texas too, so, they're moving.

        The rancher I buy my beef from worked for In-N-Out right out of college selecting beef for their burgers in the early 80's.  Not hype : They hired a guy with an Animal Husbandry degree to pick which beef went into their grinder.

        The family will never let it go public, so the growth is going to stay fairly slow.  Who knows, maybe someday it'll get all the way back east - 20 years ago most people thought they'd never cross the Rockies.

        “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

        by JesseCW on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 11:40:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this post Laura (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skyounkin, Egalitare
  •  On not following wage laws: (24+ / 0-)
    The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is just $2.13 an hour; if tips aren't enough to bring that up to $7.25 an hour, employers are supposed to make up the difference, but many do not
    Also, what is a tipped position? Many restaurants classify Food runners (ever notice that your food is brought to you by someone other than your server) Expo (people who ready the plate and confirm correctness of order), busboys, and even hostesses as tipped positions, they share in the tip pool. So, they are getting you to pay some of their basic labor cost through your tip.

    Nowadays, another wonderful trick they are using is that if you put their tip on your credit card, the restaurant deducts the cost of the credit card merchant fee from their tip.  In most restaurants above fast food, credit cards are a good 75% of sales, so this equates to the server losing about 2% of their tips.

    Agree with Laura completely here - give your business to those that treat their people fairly.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:56:30 AM PDT

  •  Last time I ate at a national chain (7+ / 0-)

    Was at Applebee's for a free steak on Veterans Day.

    Give me a locally owned joint any day. Of course here in PX we have more restaurants than you can shake a stick at, so my choices are easy. Also too, most national chains are out in the suburbs.

    Oregon does not have a separate "tipped workers" min wage and in restaurants under a certain size, the workers don't have to report tips.

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:57:37 AM PDT

  •  I've found very often the best places to eat (9+ / 0-)

    Are those that are family owned and operated.

    I eat at a diner in Mishawaka, IN called Tradewinds. Its just your run of the mill greasy spoon and is 100% family owned and operated save for the few college kids they hire during the peak seasons. They pay the kids well, servers make minimum wage plus tips. I think they share some of the tips with the cooks too.

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:00:30 AM PDT

    •  Shouldn't have to share tips with cooks & others (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nina Katarina, belinda ridgewood
      I think they share some of the tips with the cooks too.
      Should not be allowed.  The cooks should get paid an adequate wage and the servers keep their tips.  It is up to management to ensure that the cooks put out the food the servers request.

      Here in Washington State the minimum wage is $9.04 including tipped workers.  ($7.68 for 14 & 15 year olds.)

      •  No not forcefully, I guess that came out wrong (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        belinda ridgewood, zett

        Its a very wonderful atmosphere, the servers do it because they want to.

        Think I may take a break from commenting today, nothing is coming out right today.

        --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

        by idbecrazyif on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:20:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Have to agree (4+ / 0-)

      Not so much "family owned" as locally owned by chefs you can go in and talk to. Cleveland, Ohio has a tidal wave of such places, where owners and chefs are committed to locally grown, sustainable food production and often have relationships with farmers or even have their own gardens. You can go into these places and talk to staff who are often friends of the owners. I just don't go to chains at all so I don't concern myself with that.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:41:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I do occasionally eat (10+ / 0-)

    fast/chain food, but my favorite restaurants are the mom & pops in my city.  I'm sure they're not giving any charity to their employees, but when I go in and see smiling wait staff, I know things can't be all bad.  I'm also impressed when the owners spend time in the dining room, seating people or chatting with customers, even busing tables occasionally.  That person takes pride in his/her business.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:13:43 AM PDT

    •  Some franchised chains have the same (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      luckylizard, zett

      There's a Wendy's I go to once a month or so, and the guy running the place is clearly an owner, and does exactly what you describe. Comes out of the kitchen during slower times and cleans tables, visits with customers - especially regulars. You can tell he cares about his staff in the way he directs and trains them, working along side the newbies, etc.

      from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

      by Catte Nappe on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 09:22:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's good news for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe

        those employees, and for the business, too.  Happy workers treat customers well, which in turn promises repeat business.

        -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

        by luckylizard on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 06:43:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  One problem (3+ / 0-)

    Both chains cited specialize in foods I and others shouldn't eat.

    Have never eaten at In and Out, but Five Guys came to my area abt 18 months ago.  Once was enough.

    VERY fatty hamburgers & fries.  And neither of us cared for the taste of the fries.  

    They are heart attack, stroke & diabetes triggers.  Might take 10 - 30 yrs for these maladies to happen, but they will catch up with too many eventually.  

    Also, don't go there if you've had your gall bladder out, or have gall stones or a history of it in your family.
    That said, I agree restaurant workers should be paid better, with sick days, etc.  
    Salad bars and restaurant type stations in large grocery stores like Wegmans & Publix are choices we are making, plus the workers there do have a chance for advancement.

    •  Well, yeah, it's a given that (5+ / 0-)

      no one should eat fast food or burgers very often at all. But if you're going to eat it occasionally, and most of us do, these are better choices.

      (And from the point of view of someone who can't eat gluten, I really appreciate that both Five Guys and In-N-Out have dedicated fryers for their fries and will do burgers bunless.)

    •  Five Guys is overrated (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The first one to open here in STL closed a few months ago, I guess I'm not the only one who thought it was overrated.

      St. Louis has a few locally owned restaurants that have some of the best burgers you'll ever eat, so who needs a shitty chain restaurant?

      "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

      by yg17 on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 08:10:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Both chains cited specialize in food sedentary (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      people should not eat often.

      Eating them to excess when you don't burn them off are heart attack, stroke, and diabetes triggers.

      Some people still pilot shovels for a living.   Some people still lug carpet all day.  There's nothing wrong with a 500 calorie cheeseburger and 400 calorie basket of fries when you burn 180 calories an hour 8 hours a day scrubbing floors.

      There are times when it's just painful to read the things people post here.  

      “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

      by JesseCW on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 11:46:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  When it comes down to it (0+ / 0-)

      I am gluten-free, and hardly any serve food suitable. But to my knowledge not a single restaurant in my state showed up on the list. It's all moot.

  •  Come visit the Northwest (7+ / 0-)

    Both Oregon and Washington require even tipped workers in restaurants to be paid at least minimum wage; and both states' minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage.

    That doesn't mean there won't be restaurant owners who try to get around the law, but evidently they won't get away with it for long, as the former Portland-based Typhoon! restaurant owner has learned.

  •  Every Union Hall (5+ / 0-)

    should have this information available to its members. Every Democratic campaign office, every sierra club, etc. ....fill in the blank.  Past time to insist on this kind of stuff every time for every special occasion.  

    If Americans are only consumers, then let's set the bar high for consumerism.

  •  You could come to San Francisco (8+ / 0-)

    Since 2007, every San Francisco employer is required to provide paid sick leave, even small businesses. The only difference is that small businesses that employ fewer than ten workers can cap accrued leave at 40 hours; larger businesses can cap accrued leave at 72 hours.

    If you're really curious you can read the ordinance here.

    Employers are also required to provide health benefits; some restaurants add a surcharge (about 4% I believe) to the bill to cover the cost as permitted by law though only a few do that. Alternatively they can pay the city directly to cover costs associated with their employees' use of the city's Healthy San Francisco program.

  •  Two Healthy Choices ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, Mr Robert

    Five Guys and In-N-Out

    Grilled meat, fried potatoes and carbonated sugar water

    •  Well, if you're a meat eater anyway (0+ / 0-)

      it's not that bad on occasion -- and you can always get something other than "carbonated sugar water" such as lemonade or iced tea (I happen to be an iced tea fan -- one packet of Sweet 'N Low or Splenda and I'm good to go). Both do just a plain grilled cheese as well which can make a nice light snack if you're on the go.

      Mitt Romney: the Etch-A-Sketch candidate in the era of YouTube

      by Cali Scribe on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 08:00:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not a damn thing wrong with grilled meat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      or fried potatoes, unless eaten to excess.

      A hamburger with ketchup and mustard at in-n-out is 310 calories.  It's not just an appropriate lunch, it's a small lunch.

      “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

      by JesseCW on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 11:53:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Petition to Christine Quinn for Paid Sick Days (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Kaib, concernedamerican

    If Council Speaker Christine Quinn would just stop blocking the NYC Paid Sick Time Act, then we could have paid sick days in New York. We have a veto-proof majority of votes on city council, but she's being an obstructionist. You can sign this petition to show your support for the bill.

  •  I doubt that not eating at the other restaurants (0+ / 0-)

    will help their employees.

    •  Erm. Wut? (0+ / 0-)

      You understand that when you patronize restaurants that treat their employees well, you increase their business and this generally leads to them hiring, right?

      That means people working at those other restaurants do benefit when new positions open up elsewhere and they change employers.

      “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

      by JesseCW on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 11:55:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I work in a restaurant... (8+ / 0-)

    among several other jobs.

    The abuse of the Fair Labor Standards Act minimum wage exemption is a national shame.

    Imagine working for $3.63 an hour mopping, wiping, taking out trash, stocking shelves, cooking, taking phone orders, etc., etc., etc.

    Now imagine that 3% of your gross sales are taken out of $3.63 an hour to subsidize the work of the hosts. In other words, if someone doesn't leave a decent tip, you actually lose money on the table.

    But I'm not done...

    Now imagine that you literally have to pay the taxes on the 3% of those deductions.

    You get the idea. I pay about double the marginal rate of Mitt Romney on my meager earnings.

    It's a FUCKING national shame.

  •  My problem with this diary/article on yahoo (0+ / 0-)

    I love eating at 5 guys, but due to recent health issues, I need to eat healthier.

    5 Guys has to be about the worst in terms of healthy, but I DO LOVE THEIR FOOD!

    As such, 5 Guys is off my list of eating places now.

    I was saddened to see Olive Garden on the list of WORST towards workers.
    (unlimited soup/salad) w/ a lot of emphasis on the salad is healthy and I do like it a lot.

    I would like to eat out socially responsible, but I must now prioritize healthy eating above that.

    I wish the list had more choices for places to eat that treat workers more fairly.

    Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

    by Mannie on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:42:11 PM PDT

  •  Just a point, servers in mid and upper priced (0+ / 0-)

    restaurants are likely to make well over the state minimum wage.  I did the books for an a such a place.  The servers all averaged over $20 dollars per hour in tips with a base wage of 4.34 an hour.  That's nearly 25 dollars per hour.
    They did not get any benefits other than free meals, but, I don't think it would be fair to the owners to raise the minimum wage in this type of circumstance.

    The cretins who abuse their workers and pay less than minimum wage should be charged and run out of business.

    What could help is to make it easier for restaurants to form large insurance pools to purchase health insurance.  Also, rather than spending your money on corporate chains, support your local ethical independent restaurant.

    I play for keeps. Kindness, Equality, Enlightenment, Peace, and Sustainability.

    by QDMacaw on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 08:01:49 PM PDT

    •  How would it be "unfair" to the owners? (0+ / 0-)

      People give gifts to their employees - that does not take a dime from their bottom line.

      All establishments would be treated equally - there would be no unfair competitive advantage that would send customers somewhere else.

      Do you feel that the Ownership Caste is just somehow naturally entitled to a certain share of the wealth working people create?

      What's so horribly unfair in CA, WA, and OR, where tipped servers aren't subjected to wage abuse by owners?  

      Do  we have fewer restaurants per capita in those states?

      I see no evidence angry "Job Creators" have fled from that imposition on their natural entitlement.

      Just because workers in a high end establishment took home something approaching a living wage doesn't mean their boss is entitled to cut-rate labor.  

      “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

      by JesseCW on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:02:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The logic is (0+ / 0-)

        that employees who work these positions in expensive restaurants end up being adequately compensated, therefore their employers should not be expected to raise their base pay to minimum. And if it is not fair to the owners to raise their pay, then no owners should have to raise any tipped employees' pay to minimum. It's the unspoken third part that is presupposed.

        •  I work in a Sushi Restaurant (0+ / 0-)

          As both a server and a manager....we may average over $20 per hour, but we also take a chance every day that we won't make but $7 an hour.

          If I am sick I can't take a day off, because I won't get paid, and I am not eligible for health care because I can't get 37 hours a week as our shifts are only 4 to 5 hours and we aren't allowed to get enough shifts.

          I am not complaining as I understand at a small business it is hard to make it.  At least the kitchen guys all have insurance as they only make $10/hour plus the money we have to tip out.

        •  The "unspoken third part" that the Boss class is (0+ / 0-)

          entitled to free labor whenever and wherever they can extract it?

          “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

          by JesseCW on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:36:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There you go. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            If even one worker of that type is getting adequate pay, none deserve a fair minimum wage. Because that one worker might be getting more than he deserves, and it is worth putting tens of millions into poverty to prevent one worker making more than he deserves.

      •  Most restaurants are independently owned and not (0+ / 0-)

        raking in the big bucks.

        93%: Percentage of eating-and-drinking place businesses that have fewer than 50 employees.

        7 out of 10 eating-and-drinking place establishments are single-unit operations

        80% of restaurant owners said their first job in the restaurant industry as an entry-level position.

        Average food service profit is 4.5%

        To answer your question, it would be unfair to the owners in this circumstance because they were struggling financially with loans from from family and friends, high rent, and overhead. (They could not get a loan from any bank, other than high interest credit lines.)  The chef owners were living their dream of having their own place, working day and night 7 days a week.  The servers were already making triple the state minimum wage of $7.36.  Also the restaurant pays 7.51% of employer FICA tax on all wages and tip income.  The owners are not big capital in this case and neither are most restauranteurs.

        The term small business in this country is a misnomer.  The IRS defines it as less than 4000 workers.  Do you know the Koch Bros are considered small businessmen?  The majority of truly small, independent businesses have less than 100 employees and generate significant wages and income for their local economies.  These businesses do not have political clout.  The government should support them rather than the corporate 1 percent with their troves of influence.  Just my perspective.  Thanks for replying.  I suspect we would agree more than disagree on most points.

        I play for keeps. Kindness, Equality, Enlightenment, Peace, and Sustainability.

        by QDMacaw on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:49:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Every employer makes their bucks off someone (0+ / 0-)

          elses backs.

          That fellow workers decide to give gifts to servers has nothing to do with a Bosses obligation to compensate the labor that generates their actual wealth.

          "A lot of restaurant  owners are bad at running restaurants" is not an excuse for supporting the exploitation of workers.  If we buy that argument, then we might as well let everyone from carpet cleaners to dog groomers to stiff their employees and refuse to pay them a fair wage.

          The restaurant industry is doing just fine in states that do not allowing this form of theft and abuse, btw.

          You and I do not agree that petty crooks have some of god-given right to steal where large crooks do not.

          You are as much my enemy as the Koch brothers.  Obviously, you cannot win without actual workers on your side, so like the Koch brothers you try to deceive and mislead and convince those you wish to harm that you share some sort of common cause with them.

          “The administration should be worried about the level of despair here.” ~Markos Moulitsas at NN12

          by JesseCW on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:43:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I stand corrected. (0+ / 0-)

            Your approach is obviously the way to go and affect positive change for workers and Mom and Pop small businesses.  

            I play for keeps. Kindness, Equality, Enlightenment, Peace, and Sustainability.

            by QDMacaw on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 01:17:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I know a lot of people who work in restaurants (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but not any Americans. I suppose the waiters and managers are American but I don't know any of them, just the people who cook and what not. Supporting businesses that follow US labor laws, all of them, is a good thing.

    We haven't been to a restaurant where you sit down and eat and tip someone in probably fifteen years. Costs too much.

    The theory that nature is permanently in balance has been largely discredited

    by ban nock on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 08:05:02 PM PDT

  •  After I went through the guide I was shocked at (0+ / 0-)

    how many restaurants don't pay or reward their workers fairly.

    I was seeing what Adam had seen on the morning of his creation - the miracle, moment by moment, of naked existence. --The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley

    by Wildthumb on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 08:10:56 PM PDT

  •  Check out ROC's video too (0+ / 0-)

    Eating ethically means considering the treatment of the workers too!

  •  When I worked as a server in 1982 it was $2.10 hr! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zett, JesseCW, Dr Stankus

    Seriously -- the sub minimum wage has gone up 3 cents in 30 years??

    That is INSANE.

    And we were of course forced to work many non-tipped hours back then...if you didn't play ball you wouldn't get the prime weekend shifts. I'm going to guess that hasn't changed one iota.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 09:15:40 PM PDT

    •  insane (0+ / 0-)

      I worked as a waiter in Texas in 1993 for a little while, and we were paid $2.125 hour, 1/2 the minimum wage of $4.25.

      So, almost all of that massive 3 cent wage growth was front loaded.

      And I know that Herman Cain is a cartoonish clown, but the organization he led helps keep these wages down.

  •  You shouldn't eat ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... in any restaurant if you care about your own health, but that's another topic altogether.  

  •  No food-service job has ever done this--make up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, dalfireplug

    the difference? Don't make me laugh!

    The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is just $2.13 an hour; if tips aren't enough to bring that up to $7.25 an hour, employers are supposed to make up the difference, but many do not.
  •  I find that guide frustrating (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hirodog, kat herder, bwren

    I looked at it last year, complained about its uselessness, but they haven't made it more useful this year.

    It's a *&$#@!ing PDF! It is as if they are trying for maximum irrelevancy.

    How this should be done (with much less effort than they put into the superfluous design work on their PDF):

    - put the whole thing online, in flat html, so you can see all of it without downloading the thing, and most importantly so that Google sees it and raises its profile.

    - make it searchable by cuisine, by national vs. local, by cost, by ratings (I mean food ratings from Zagat, Michelin, etc, not their own) and most especially by location. Why on earth can't I just look at the restaurants they've listed within 5 or 10 miles of my location, like everything else on the web? The fact that an extremely expensive restaurant in Manhattan is a great employer is as irrelevant to me as the fact that Arby's is not. I have no expectation of going to either one. Show me something that is meaningful to me.

    Finally, though it would take a bit more effort, they absolutely need to turn this into a mobile app. What other form has any use compared to that? That is where the rubber hits the road on restaurant decisions and discussions.

    All these improvements would be easy to do (though the last might require a bit of money), and would expand the reach of this document immeasurably. If I google the restaurant I'm thinking of going out to tonight, this PDF will NOT come up, even if that restaurant happens to be listed. If there are flat web pages that list the restaurant, LINK to its own webpage, and review it, those will come up. And then people will see these ratings. And only then will these ratings will become part of a significant number of people's decisions.

    Finally, putting it online for real, with, you know, searchability and hyperlinks and all that real modern stuff, would enable them to make this ACTIVE and continuously updated. You could put out a survey online that invited restaurants to submit their info if they were good guys, to get into the listings. And they would. And the list would expand rapidly. Then maybe I'd start seeing restaurants near me that I would even consider visiting when I had the money to dine out again. Currently that list includes exactly two, though I live in one of the greatest dining destinations in the world.

    Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

    by rcbowman on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 10:07:43 PM PDT

    •  Oh, and where's info on state laws on wages? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kat herder

      I killed the PDF after seeing how irrelevant it was to me and my decisions, and I may have missed it in there, but I didn't see anywhere an indication of one of the really interesting points. In some states, and California is one of them, the law is that you must pay full minimum wage to all employees regardless of whether they're in 'tipped' positions. It's a big consideration when comparing the ratings they give out on the tipped minimum wage question.

      ...for everyone's information, I will answer my own question:

      Cry, the beloved country, these things are not yet at an end.

      by rcbowman on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 10:57:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Consumer Activism.. love it! Thanks! nt (0+ / 0-)

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:12:30 AM PDT

  •  Do other industries have this? (0+ / 0-)

    Just curious if there are other businesses we consumers can encourage with our consumer dollars to change their bad habits?

    Retailers? Food Products? etc.

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:16:00 AM PDT

  •  Just sent the ROC and guide link to my brother, (0+ / 0-)

    who has been hired as a professor of "ethical leadership" at a major university.

    He was really influenced by his meetings with Peter Singer, who changed his views about ethics with regard to animal husbandry.

    Maybe he'll change his thinking about restaurants too.

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:01:56 AM PDT

  •  Chatterbox Cafe, St. Paul (0+ / 0-)

    This restaurant at the corner of Highland and Cleveland in St. Paul accepted Daniele as a trainee before they even opened, and took a month to teach her the menu, and the procedures.

    She dyed her hair black to fit in. The Chatterbox opening meant a lot to her, and she was proud to be a part of it. They weren't a dive. People would leave decent tips. Customers wouldn't be grabbing her, or stealing from her, or arguing with her. Maybe she would even get some level of benefits. It was the best shot she ever got at being part of the middle class.

    Then, three days before the scheduled opening, they cut her and five other trainees. Why? We never were told. Daniele had a mouth on her. Maybe they thought she had too much attitude. But she insisted to me that she kept a lid on it during training. Maybe it was her humor. She saw humor in everything, and not everyone does.

    She came home from the diring, devastated. I flew into a cold rage and drove down to the restaurant and entered through the kitchen. I located the training director and laid it out for her. How much the job meant to Daniele. That she learned everything they asked her to learn.

    “Were you aware that she attempted suicide three months ago, and this was her effort at coming back from that?”

    The training director just looked at me. “Look, that really isn't my problem. If you'll excuse me, I have work to do.” And she turned and walked away.

    There was nothing more I could do. I had tried an appeal to good will, and then to fear, and then to shame. Chatterbox Pub was beyond all three. If they found out the next day that Daniele had died, it would be nothing to them. Oh, maybe they would be sorry. But change a business plan, to keep a young girl alive? Don't be ridiculous.  

    Daniele reeled from the rejection. To her it meant she would have to go back to the dives. To the drunks and people who skipped out without paying and the jerks who thought the reason you existed was to play grab-ass with.

    And she did it. But she never regained that joy she felt at the idea of working for the Chatterbox Pub.

    There's nothing I can do to bring her back. Daniele is gone from my life, and I miss her like I would miss my skin if it were taken off. But I am still capable of spite, and I would take it as a personal favor to me if you never ate at Chatterbox Pub again.

    They have a fun menu, and they win annual City Pages polls as best first date place in our market. But the place has no heart, and no sense of responsibility to people.

    There are a few things I have a hard time forgiving, and inflicting pain on the unwell is one of them. It's what Chatterbox Pub does to its workers. I will work on the forgiveness part. But I so wish they had had the human kindness to give my beautiful daughter a chance to live.

    - Mike Finley

    From the home of "Future Shoes."

    by mfinley98 on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 04:15:36 AM PDT

  •  conference tipping (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat herder

    I worked for a hotel as a restaurant manager. This hotel had a conference center ,2 restaurants, and a bar. My employees would often have to work with no tips and the owners would just change their rate of pay. After several years the sales director showed me the contracts that had a gratuity added to the tune of 15 to 21 %. When I asked the owner she said we made enough money and she used the extra tips to pay her bills. Long story short, I lost my job and filed a back wage claim for myself. It ended up in court and the judge threw the book at the owner. She admitted keeping all the gratuities from all the departments, maids, baggage handlers, conference servers, bartenders, waiters, everybody.She had been doing this for decades. My calculations were about a million in tips going to her. The judge said she had to pay everything back plus triple the damages.This situation is normal in most hotels. So when you sign a contract for a conference with gratuities added ask and make sure the actual servers get the tip.
    There is a lot more to my story but the point is to know where your money is going.

    •  Excellent advice--ask servers if they get the tips (0+ / 0-)

      A friend of mine used to work room service for a national hotel chain (can't remember which one) and never saw a dime of the mandatory 15% that was added to the bill. Since then I've always asked room service and other hotel staff if the tips actually go to them, and I would say about a third of the time the answer is no, or that only part of the tip does. One more reason to tip in cash.

  •  20% minimum, up to the nearest dollar. Pass it on. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sarahinwi, kat herder, Dr Stankus, bwren

    Tipping is NOT a reward for good service.  

    Wait staff have good days and bad days, and they're virtually always trying to do their jobs well.  They're not there to dump on your mood.  Sometimes they've had a bad day at home.  

    Tipping is our little bit of making the world a fairer place.  If wait staff got 20% from every customer, their lives would improve markedly, and our lives would hardly suffer.

    Pass it on.  No, I'm not wait staff.  

    •  I like you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kat herder

      Your message should go out to all people who go to restaurants/hotels everywhere.

    •  So much is out of the server's control (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Besides the fact that 20% is simply to ensure that servers are paid fairly (which shouldn't be the customer's responsibility, but the reality is that for now, it is), another reason to tip 20% is because wait staff actually have far less control over the quality of the service provided than most people realize.

      Many hold-ups in service take place in the kitchen, up front, or in the bar and can be due to multiple factors, from a prima-donna chef who really doesn't give a sh*t how long the food takes to get there or who wants to punish servers he doesn't like for whatever reason, to a hostess who decides to go ahead and seat a large party that shows up without a reservation and ends up throwing the seating balance into chaos.

      Often the bar is running more slowly than the restaurant since people usually don't need reservations to eat/drink there, so that can affect how long it takes drinks to arrive. And sometimes there's been a miscalculation in how busy a shift is going to be and the manager will send people home only to get slammed with an unexpected wave of customers.

      Why you don't often hear about these kinds of hold-ups from your server is because any experienced server knows that explaining the situation comes off to many people as making excuses and can actually lead to an even lower tip. So we keep smiling (or, in my case I stopped smiling once I realized it had no effect on my tips and people were going to be rude anyway) and do our best to deal with the situation.

      In the end, as this project highlights, it all comes down to management and the type of work environment they're willing to tolerate or cultivate. I worked in a mid-priced restaurant on a choice piece of real-estate in a tourist town, so we were going to be busy regardless of the quality of the service. The manager I worked for not only tolerated but sometimes encouraged the behavior described above, and anyone who complained knew that they would lose prime shifts.  

  •  Kind of Useless (0+ / 0-)

    If I were to use this guide, and were to choose to eat at a popular restaurant, this guide would be kind of useless to me.  It would tell me that if I wanted to spend huge amounts of money on a so-so burger, or bad ethnic, there might be one or two places I could go, but otherwise I should just ignore the whole thing.  No one who is big is doing anything meaningful to make the workers lives better.

    Take for instance that membership in ROC gives you a pass on this pass/fail system. Why should this matter?  You either pay employees a livable wage or you don't.  Sugar bliss, for example, and I have no idea who they are as I am in the south and have never been to Chicago, is a member but their employees are evidently paid at the poverty level, so who cares?

    To continue 50% of their employees are promoted.  Again, so what?  You are promoted from a tipped to non-tipped position, and make less than $9, in chicago?  I live in a cheap place and still you need to make at least $11 or $12 to get by.  The structure makes sugar bliss look like it might be a ethical place, but really, no sick days and servant wages?  Why should anyone eat there?

    What I would like to see is some shades of grey and real intelligence.  What is the average entry level pay?  Do they pay tipped workers non-tipped pay when they do non-tipped labor?  Do they actively keep employees to part time status?  Do they provide benefits?  What are their legal exposure beyond representation by ROC.  Do they have complaints filed with EOEC.

    As it is this is feels kind of like the BBB.  A front group meant to protect firms from the demands of consumers.

  •  I grew up in a restaurant family. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kat herder

    Back then, anyone could tell we were an ethical restaurant, as we had our Union House sign clearly displayed.  That was the only union house I worked in.  Most places I worked, if I ate something I didn't pay for, I'd be fired for theft, yet the company stole my paid breaks and required lunch time every day.  Think about it!  Most people who work in restaurants these days have to have at least two jobs to make ends meet, and often have no days off.  If the boss is stealing 20 minutes of break time every day, that's over 120 hours of unpaid labor over the course of a year.

    Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your shackles. It is by the picket line and direct action that true freedom will be won, not by electing people who promise to screw us less than the other guy.

    by rhonan on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 09:48:15 AM PDT

  •  i dont use cvs anymore due to their elimination (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dr Stankus

    of workers and institution of self check out machines which always require a worker to help and there are none!

    •  I'm done with CVS too (0+ / 0-)

      I've yet to be in one where the employees weren't sad and mopey.

      It's too consistent across multiple stores. Really seems like a corporate problem.

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