• Study: 40 percent of restaurant workers underpaid
• Union lauds LA mayor’s plan for wage boosts
• Tips to attract a larger lunch crowd
• Pumpkin still king of fall beer flavors
• Another restaurant goes the ticket route
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A study claims restaurant workers are underpaid.
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute reveals that 40 percent of restaurant workers in America live in poverty or near-poverty. According to the report, it’s not only the fast food industry that has a labor problem; it’s the entire restaurant industry. Other details from the study:
• The median hourly wage in the restaurant industry, including tips, is $10, compared with $18 outside of the restaurant industry.
• The lowest-paid occupation is cashiers/counter attendants, at $8.23 an hour, while the highest paid are managers, at a typical wage of $15.42 per hour.
• One in six restaurant workers, or 16.7 percent, live below the official poverty line. The poverty rate for workers outside the restaurant industry is more than 10 percentage points lower, at 6.3 percent.
• 14.4 percent of restaurant workers receive health insurance from their employer, compared with 48.7 percent of other workers.
On a related note, a fast food and retail union in Los Angeles released a response to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to raise the city’s minimum wage. The e-mailed statement reads:
“The mayor’s move to raise LA’s minimum wage by $4.25, plus index it to inflation, shows the power and momentum of fast-food workers’ growing movement. For two years, fast-food workers have been calling for $15 an hour and a union—it's an amount that will allow us to support our families and lift up our communities.”
Looking for a profit booster? Think inside the lunchbox.
Operators have been focusing their efforts on gaining a larger share of visits during this highly competitive daypart.
Not surprisingly, convenience and speed of service are keys to a profitable lunch. Today’s consumers are also calling for higher-quality fare (80 percent, up from 70 percent in 2011) and unique and innovative lunch items, according to a recent Technomic report.
“Promotion of premium limited-time items, staggered portion sizes and better-for-you menu specialties could help capture customer attention and drive midday traffic,” says Sara Monnette, senior director of consumer insights and innovation at Technomic.
Fall is a season for fantastic craft beer, and pumpkin flavors still reign supreme.
“Fall is one of the seasons craft brewers love best thanks to its rich and varied crops and seasonal spices,” says Julia Herz, publisher of CraftBeer.com and Brewers Association craft beer program director. “Small and independent brewers utilize autumn’s selection of ingredients to create full-bodied beers with flavor profiles to fit the more brisk fall weather.”
According to a Craft Brewing Business report, Google searches for “pumpkin beer” alone triumph over Google searches for all other seasonals. Last year, pumpkin beers lead a surge in seasonal sales, turning an estimated 125,000 lag in case sales into a 300,000-case surplus that briefly put seasonals back at the front of the craft beer pack, ahead of the ever-popular India pale ale.
Another restaurant is going the route of tickets over reservations, this time with a twist.
According to an Eater report, Tuck Shop in Phoenix has began using tickets more like deposits on a reservation, with the amount you pay for the ticket applied toward your final bill. The tickets still include a 20-percent service charge and 8.3-percent tax on the reservation price. Customers also are asked to "simply tip your server as you would normally on only the remaining amount due when your check is presented."
Typically at high-end restaurants like Alinea and Coi, customers pay for the entire meal, plus tax and service, up front.