I have several friends who work in the food service industry. I’ve seen some of them work for responsible owners who make sure they make a living. I’ve seen others who struggle, sometimes working in more than one location just trying to make their bills. Because the way tips/wages are set up, it is crucial to understand that tips are the way they survive.
I’m going to give a couple examples: one young woman I know whom I met two years ago was working at a locally owned pub, a nationally owned restaurant change and cleaning houses every week. She was barely making enough to pay her rent. She was consistently exhausted but she kept on working because she didn’t have a choice and many weeks it was a crap shoot. Fortunately, she found a position with a better local restaurant here in Nashville finally where they gave her good shifts, let her build a regular clientele and she started getting ahead but it took her time to find this job. Now she is doing better but I have seen her go through really desperate times to get to where she is today. And the way she makes money really depends on her tips. P.S. She is damned good at what she does.
Another person I know has worked as a bartender for years. She has done well for herself. She, as my friend above, have been able to work for locally owned taverns that treat not only their customers, but their employees, as a family. She also has been able to build up regulars who show up on her shift mainly because of her. And her owners allow her to do this because if she’s making money, they are making money. It’s give-and-take where everyone succeeds. P.S. She is also damned good at what she does and has encouragement from ownership who lives in the community.
And let’s take a look at this reality in Tennessee.
… the federal minimum hourly wage for tipped employees remains $2.13, the same rate since 1991. But what not all foodservers and other tipped employees realize is that their $2.13 per hour plus tips must equal the $7.25 an hour, or the restaurant is legally obligated to pay the tipped employee the difference to make sure he or she makes the increased minimum wage.
Let that sink in … food service workers haven’t gotten a raise in 22 years. So it’s really up to owners to do the right thing. Some owners do that, (read examples above) but not all of them do. Sometimes it takes time to wade through places where a living can be made.
I really don’t go to corporate-based franchises if I don’t have to. The recent controversy surrounding Applebee’s is a good example of why I don’t. If you read this article, you will see that they changed their policy in the last two weeks, have been fighting with the public because they fired Chelsea Welch who posted a picture last week about an offensive comment left on a receipt and then … wait for it … decided to fight everyone on every social media network they could find who disagreed with them. DUMB SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY … Applebees couldn’t control their message regarding their personnel decision by picking fights.
I don’t think all franchises are bad, I really don’t. And if I’m going to go out, I’m sort of a Cheers sort of gal, I want to go to a place where I see people I know and where everybody knows my name sort of thing. It’s sort of like a church of the fellowship of the bar that some folks who stop to drain a couple of pints want before they head home.
I don’t get that from places like Applebee’s kind of fern bar restaurants so this is as much as just my preference and I own that.
I am much more apt to frequent places I know that treat their employees with respect and allow them to create their own clientele and business model in recruiting and maintaining regulars.
As the old saying goes you need to treat others as you wish to be treated. And this isn’t selective in my opinion. You treat people that work in restaurants, convenience stores, bagging your groceries etc. with the respect that every human being deserves.
One final note, people talk and bars are where people congregate. If you act like a butthole with employees, they are going to tell other people And with Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, their audience just got way bigger. If you are a community/political/celebrity leader and you act like a jerk, believe me people will find out.