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How much is too much?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I admit that this is an old fogey question BUT: How much is too much to ask for a meal?
I have been cooking since the mid 60's and it seems that a meal, in a casual dining restaurant cost about 1 1/2 to 2 hours pay for a cook. I read today that many casual dining restaurants are beginning to break the $20 entree barrier which is well beyond twice what the cooks locally earn.
Does anyone have stats on how this price relationship has gone over the years? Are we driving away business?
post #2 of 7
No, But I do know that wages for cooks have been flatlined in the USA for twenty years now.While wages in most businesses tend to follow inflation and the rest of the economy, the food biz has not.

In other words a position that paid 9$/hr twenty years ago, still pays the same.

Reasons? I can only stab in the dark, but here goes:

1. Greed. Owners and corperations just stuff the extra profit in their pockets.

2. Fear that menu price increses will tank business.

3. High food prices erode potential wage monies.

4. Chain stores like Chili's, Applebees, Olive garden et-al, who try to eliminate the need for any cooking skill at all. They want it so any teenager can produce the food. Crack the can. Open the box. It's sit down fast food, and that's all it is. However cheaply and efficintly produced.

5. Pressures on American's disposable/liesure income. We have a real bogus economy, one that survives on us buying things. We have extraordinary consumer debt in this country, and each price increase or rise in the costs of energy tap directly into the budget to dine out. That party will be over sooner than later, but the pressures of living this way influence the dining public and how they spend.

6. Our trade, our craft, nor the people that toil in it,are simply not respected. No matter how many TV chefs there are.
post #3 of 7
WOW, I can't believe that the average cook in the US only makes $9.00 per hour! That's ridiculous. I only wish that the "Chef's Associations" in North America had the same power as those in Europe. Local associations don't have the power to order a mass walkout like they can in European countries. Wages will only be a reflection of our abilities when the associations finally get their collective head's out of their butts and realize that they have the power to force employers to pay what the market demands.
As far as restaurant prices, they continue to climb even though there is no renumeration for the employees. I have found that $20 for a casual meal is no longer unreasonable. Too bad about the BOH staff, tips are usually poor and management doesn't want to pay what people are worth.
post #4 of 7
Someone should form an association to help chefs start their own little restaurants. That'll help things. Trouble is I don't know where to start.
post #5 of 7
Best of luck with that. I think the local associations really just have to get off their *** and do what needs to be done to garner some respect. Let me know how it works out for you kuan!
post #6 of 7
I believe another problem we have in America, at least in Texas, is the number of illegals we have in the kitchens. In the restaurant where I worked, it was todos Espanol. I would have hated to see the immigration officers walk in cuz every one of them would have scattered. You can't really blame them though (the workers) cuz wouldn't you want to work for $9/hour here in the U.S. as opposed to making less than $9/day in Mexico or SoAm? Every prep cook, dishwasher, and line cook (with the exception of me) were Hispanic.

I believe as long as the immigration problem exists in America, that there will be a reason management can get away with only paying $9/hour for young cooks. You have to get to at least sous here before you start earning a small bit more bucks it seems like!
post #7 of 7
A huge part of the problem for startups is that financing is hard to get due to the high failure rate of new restaurants. I heard Mario Batali once said, you can open a restaurant for only $50k. I wonder how true that is today.

Maybe if we had a SCORE type of organization for restaurants...

BTW Does anyone think that the skilled labor pool is shrinking?
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