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Pay Rates

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Just out of curiosity, do the super high-end places pay their cooks anymore? I mean places like Alinea, Trotter's, French Laundry, MiniBar, etc. A couple of friends of mine (also professional cooks/chefs) and I were debating. One side had said that, at most of these places, a lot of cooks are willing to work free/cheap just to have it on the resume. The other side stated that these restaurants need a higher level of talent, so they are willing to pay more to make sure the best don't leave.

What do you all think/know about the topic?
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post #2 of 6
Each restaurant has its own strategy and own profit and loss statement to account to. Labor is, by far, the most expensive item on that P&L.

This is the decision and challenge for all business owners. Do you really save money on labor if the lower experience level drives customers from your place?

I've always paid people twice the going rate because I want the best people with the best work ethic. Labor may be the biggest cost of a restaurant, but good people are its best investment.

In general, I'd think the higher the entree price, the swankier the surroundings, the more they can pay their staff, but that's not always the case.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Twice the going rate huh? Can I go work for you?
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post #4 of 6
I pay my servers and bartenders $20 per hour. Since most work other places, when I call, they certainly answer. This is off-set by the fact that the client is charged $25 for each server. This way, I can attract the best people for the client, yielding superior service for them. Most of my staff has been with me for 5 years or more.

This also has solved the issue of tipping at a catered event. I don't want my staff with their hands out, or have the bartender disappointed at a poor tip night. Often at Weddings, it's inappropriate to have a tip jar. The bartender is guaranteed a steady rate.
Also, the father of the bride doesn't have to grease anyone.

I charge the appropriate amount for outstanding service. Outstanding service demands the appropriate pay. I wish more business owners felt this way.

My philosophy is "Nobody ever CUTS their way to success".
post #5 of 6
Keep in mind this is only "what I heard"

Starting salariy for line cook at Alinea is $24,000/year... though I would imagine thats for probably 50-60 hrs a week.

Another fancy restaurant in Chicago salaries their employees daily around $80/day for a 14 hr shift.
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys. Ras, I know Le Lan used to pay that when they were open. I have a friend who worked there. $24k for a line cook isn't great, but it's not terrible either.
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