Hell's Kitchen applauds minimum wage increase

Categories: Business
HellsKitchenBlotter.jpg
One of the Twin Cities' busiest restaurants actually thinks the minimum wage increase that went into effect August 1 isn't enough.
Though restaurants like the River Oasis Cafe in Stillwater and the Blue Plate family have made no secret about not being fans of Minnesota's first minimum wage increase in nearly a decade, one downtown Minneapolis restaurant has embraced it.

Pat Forciea, marketing director for Hell's Kitchen, tells us management and ownership at his restaurant "strongly supported the minimum wage increase."

See also:
Rep. Frank Hornstein talks about living on minimum wage for a week

Forciea says Hell's Kitchen has 146 employees. Only servers make the minimum wage, but nonetheless, as a "large company" under the law, the increase from $6.15 to $8 for servers will cost the restaurant "a little more than" $50,000 a year.

"One aspect of the minimum wage debate that we find particularly hypocritical is that I don't remember any instances in which a restaurant's senior management team (or owners) specifically told their customers they were implementing a price increase so they could raise their own salaries," Forciea writes in an email. "I don't know of any restaurant that has listed that line item to their receipts -- this appears to be only happening when it involves minimum wage employees."

Nonetheless, Forciea acknowledges that Hell's Kitchen's upper management "understands concerns that smaller restaurants have."

"But we feel strongly about the increase being the right thing to do," Forciea says. "The dollar amount we're talking about is still modest. It's overdue and it's not really enough, but it's an important first step."

In fairness, however, Hell's Kitchen's profitability probably isn't impacted as dramatically by the minimum wage increase as are smaller businesses like the River Oasis Cafe. Forciea tells us that with 340,000 customers served last year, Hell's Kitchen actually had the largest volume in the Twin Cities.

Nonetheless, Hell's Kitchen even resisted pressure from the Minnesota Restaurant Association, which was opposed to the minimum wage increase.

(For more, click to page two.)



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52 comments
markie19
markie19 topcommenter


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Aaron Frederickson
Aaron Frederickson

If they applauded the wage increase, it makes you wonder why they decided not to act on their own.

Erik McCarthy
Erik McCarthy

It's no where NEAR enough of an increase. It's a pittance, and any businesses bitching about this PATHETIC token increase deserves to go out of business from boycotts.

Amy Appel
Amy Appel

Just another reason to love hells kitchen! Finally, people who understand that the more you make, the more you spend.

Dave Kjellberg
Dave Kjellberg

Guess who's paying for the increase? We are. Prices have already went up on drinks at my favorite bar.

Jennifer Sicora
Jennifer Sicora

Cause Gordon Ramsey is a rock star and a true human to boot. He cares unlike others.

Michele Andrews
Michele Andrews

The Oasis could learn a lot about respect for their employees and their customers but they have stated they don't care and don't want our business. "Brave" talk in this still struggling economy...I guess the Oasis is just rolling in the dough and don't need "customers"! Glad Hell's Kitchen cares.

worksman
worksman

I guess if you're charging $10 for a grilled cheese sandwich, you can afford to pay your employees more that minimum wage. Go figure.

Den L Jackson
Den L Jackson

My guess is HK is sincere, and will continue to enjoy their fine food and service. Not so with BP or Oasis.

April Streich
April Streich

Lol, like they were somehow forced to pay only minimum wage while objecting to it. Stupid. If they thought their employees deserved more, they should have paid the more before the government required them to. PR crap, nothing more

Daniel Kormick
Daniel Kormick

Its smart IMO. Its not negative like the rest. Its positive. I never knew the place was there until i read this. I may eat there when I visit next week.

Amanda Bohm
Amanda Bohm

Some people work 'entry level' positions their whole 'career'. We need those people too and everyone deserves a living wage.

CynthiaGerdes
CynthiaGerdes

As one of Hell’s Kitchen’s founders, I'd like to thank the vast majority of you who have supported us with comments on various blogs, but I'd also like to to answer some good (and fair) questions raised in this important debate.

1. We didn’t “seize” on the opportunity to take advantage of the Oasis/BluePlate/Parasole situation. At first, we quietly told our position to our own staff only. On August 1st, as reporters called to ask where we stood on the issue, we posted the exact same message only to our own Facebook fans. But when the issue began to boil, we felt it was imperative that folks clearly understand not all restaurant owners were against the min wage increase.

2. So why didn’t we give raises before the law went into effect? Actually, we did, long ago. Virtually every non-tipped position at HK, from dishwashers to even interns, has been paid more than minimum wage ever since we started. And many tipped positions such as food runners or wait assistants have also been paid more than minimum wage. The only people paid $7.25 (our minimum wage) were tipped servers and bartenders who already make very healthy incomes. Some of these in fact had larger incomes than managers or even owners, and that’s always been fine with us. 

4. We have also always offered paid vacation and health insurance to every full time employee, not just managers.

5. Just like rent, these items are expenses of doing business and thus come right off our bottom line. In fact, we recently walked away from an extremely lucrative deal the minute we felt pushed to fatten up our profits. Yes, we watch every expenditure because this is an industry with razor-thin margins, but not at the expense of employee wages, perks and benefits. 

6. And finally, the pain smaller establishments are feeling is very real, and we clearly acknowledged from the get-go. We never claimed to speak on their behalf; we are speaking about successful, financially able restaurants (whether independents such as ours or especially larger chains) or retailers balking at being forced to give up an extra % of profit.

I wrote this response not to satisfy anybody with a hidden agenda (such as the non-related Kluwe barb). I have no plans on getting further into a debate; there will always be people who like us and folks who don’t. I’m responding simply to clarify things for folks who truly wonder what makes us tick. Plain and simple. 

Cynthia Gerdes

Sarah Stegmann
Sarah Stegmann

Giving the people more money won't solve a thing. Inflation is rising higher than our minimum wage..doesn't anyone care about the bigger picture?

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

Sweet. Another reason why I can call this one of my favorite restaurants in the cities.

Jeff Nall
Jeff Nall

Don't eat at a restaurant that pays it's staff min wage. That's an indicator of the quality of the ingredients in their food. Safe bet they're buying the cheapest stuff they can. Fillers, HF corn syrup, high fat.

Andy Stealth Trattar
Andy Stealth Trattar

"The dollar amount we're talking about is still modest. It's overdue and it's not really enough, but it's an important first step." So pay more than minimum wage if its not enough. You're just out there using other negative publicity to promote yourself and say, "we aren't complaining about what we have to do, but we won't do more" oh thank god for businesses like yours!

Raymond Molter
Raymond Molter

good point, this manager is clearly exploiting for his advantage the problems the smaller stores are encountering while "feeling their pain" This GM seems to try to grab publicity in goofy ways. Also See: Kluwe pandering.

Raymond Molter
Raymond Molter

The inherent hypocrisy in this is they believe in this so much, why did it take a change in the law for them to do it? If they have this flexibility and belief why haven't they paid their servers more than minimum wage? Hi Welcome to Hell's Kitchen new server. I want to pay you more but I won't because I'm not being forced too. What the law changed and we can't do nothing about it? Ohh we're totally for it! and as proof we can show that we didn't say anything about it before it happened! EVERY SERVER GETS A RAISE! (but not more than the new minimum wage) They must think their customers and servers are pretty stupid to swallow this garbage.

Dan Gordon
Dan Gordon

Why did they wait until it became law to increase their employees' wages to $8/hr? Why aren't they raising it to $10/hr or $20/hr? Hell's Kitchen is still paying the bare minimum. There is no way the owners would support a minimum wage increase, but they just seized the opportunity to take advantage of the Oasis and Blue Plate situation. If they truly believed their servers should make more, they would have already been paying them more than minimum.

dieinafire
dieinafire

"Forciea tells us that with 340,000 customers served last year, Hell's Kitchen actually had the largest volume in the Twin Cities."

So the City Pages is intentionally conflating the two places. Business as usual.  

Drew Pérez
Drew Pérez

Another reason not to eat at the other place

John Keran
John Keran

Chain restaurant = big business, they can cover the increase.

Daniel Willert
Daniel Willert

I feel so bad for tpu Brian, my heart bleeds. You want a dollar?

Matthew Martin
Matthew Martin

Yeah Daniel because you can get the mid and high level jobs right away? Congrats to Hells Kitchen for some savvy Marketing/PR. Makes the regulars and newcomers feel better.

Brian T Sexton
Brian T Sexton

OK Daniel Willert, sounds good... I'll just be jobless till head chef position falls in my lap...

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

I imagine it's the washing song famously tuned by the seven dwarf's.

Daniel Willert
Daniel Willert

You want higher wages don't work entry level positions

Ryan Burke
Ryan Burke

I feel even better being a patron here.

Mike Bougie
Mike Bougie

Yay Hells Kitchen will make a point to eat there!!!

Andy Larson
Andy Larson

"One aspect of the minimum wage debate that we find particularly hypocritical is that I don't remember any instances in which a restaurant's senior management team (or owners) specifically told their customers they were implementing a price increase so they could raise their own salaries," Forciea writes in an email. "I don't know of any restaurant that has listed that line item to their receipts -- this appears to be only happening when it involves minimum wage employees."

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

They're singing the tune of "come spend your money here rather than with those dicks who don't want to pay a living wage." I know where I'm going for breakfast next time...

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Well, aren't you a ray of sunshine. Why don't you scroll down 4 comments and read what CynthiaGerdes has to say? 

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

In the United States if you work 40 hours a week you should make enough money to afford food, a house, healthcare, and have a little left over to save and spend on fun stuff.    Not everyone has the talent or luck to be highly paid.   Good people take care of their fellow man. 

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

@CynthiaGerdes Ignore the trolls.  Your restaurant is awesome.  Minnesota is filled with nice people that care about their fellow man.  I'd prefer to spend my dining dollar in a place run by nice people.  

CynthiaGerdes
CynthiaGerdes

Andy, thanks for your note; we responded in a separate reply. Cyn from Hell's Kitchen.

CynthiaGerdes
CynthiaGerdes

Dan, we appreciate your comments; see our separate note for clarification. Cynthia Gerdes (Hell's Kitchen)

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