Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1220124

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Page 27 of 75

they get a raise. Six months later, they get a raise, and then every six months after that. Raises are at least 50 cents an hour. We want to have a pool of employees who are compensated as well as possible, who are happy with their jobs, and the compensation they're earning, so that they can live a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. We're doing the best we can and want to continue to do more. If the minimum wage were increased, it would level the playing field so that all employers would be required to do more in terms of paying their employees. It would just create a better society for everyone, if people are able to make ends meet. How does your compensation affect your cost structure? Probably upwards of 55 percent of our net income is spent on employee compensation, which is high for the industry. It's a choice we've made. If we're able to end the year having paid all our bills, and with enough money in the bank to get a jumpstart on January's bills and having paid everybody as well as we can, that is the end game. We've also opened three restaurants within six-and-a-half years, with no financial backing. We're going into year three now of our newest restaurant, and our financial outlook is stronger than ever because most of our debt is now paid down, which is going to leave more money to compensate people better. We're building this core of satisfied and committed staff members that are growing with the company, that are helping us grow into the future and become better and stronger. Phillis Engelbert, owner of The Lunch Room LLC, on Employee Wages Can you describe your policies on employee wages and benefits? We compensate our employees as well as we possibly can, and that changes over time. As the business does well, our employees make more. We also view compensation as more than the wage. At different times, when the business is doing well, we've had a choice to make: Do we raise wages, or do we give another benefit? More often than not, we've come down on the side of benefits. For instance, early on we started offering earned time off. Our employees bank one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours of work. That comes out to about eight days a year, if you're full time. We also, early on, offered a retirement savings plan [with matching contributions]. We want to be a sustainable and healthy employer so, also starting early on, we offered a fitness membership allowance. We'll tack on $25 to each paycheck, so they get up to $50 a month, which is more than enough to pay for a membership at the YMCA, for instance. The next big leap we took was two years ago, when we began offering full health and dental benefits. Anybody who's working at least 30 hours a week for two months is eligible for a Platinum or Gold plan, depending on which one they select, which are two top-of-the-line health and dental plans. We charge them a minimal fee, taken out of each paycheck, to participate, but it leaves more money in their pocket than if they were to buy their own plan on the marketplace. Our hourly employees share the tips, so the starting hourly pay is minimum wage plus tips, and tips come out to around $6 an hour. Coming in the door, nobody's making less than $15 or $16 an hour, including tips. And all the benefits, except health and dental, are available starting day one. Then, after 60 days, they're eligible for those, too. We also give our employees raises on a regular timescale. After the first three months, Employees of Detroit Street Filling Station make at least $15 an hour, including tips. SPRING 2020 25 PHOTO: THE LUNCH ROOM LLC

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