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A Philly Restaurant Group pledges to pay workers a minimum wage of $ 15 this year

The restaurant group Marquis & Co. – owners of the vegan restaurants HipCityVeg, Bar Bombón and Charlie Was a Sinner – announced today that they will introduce a minimum wage of 15 US dollars for all employees in their nine restaurants. The change will take place in July this year and will ensure that both hourly and tip workers earn at least $ 15 an hour.

„This will affect 75 percent of our Philadelphia workforce,” says founder Nicole Marquis. The Pennsylvania minimum wage is currently $ 7.25. In DC, which has two HipCityVeg locations, the minimum wage is already $ 15. „Our [tipped] Waiters and bartenders are already making well over $ 15 an hour, but our food runners, buses, and barbacks may not. ”

In restaurants across the country Labor shortage has become a major problem as many businesses prepare to open with larger capacity and better weather means more people will feel safe eating out. With more Pennsylvanians be vaccinatedThe light at the end of the tunnel is near, but many former restaurant workers – vaccinated or not – have legitimate reasons not to come back to work. Time away from restaurants exposed to their toxicityThey found work in other industries or were just burned out by the constant ups and downs of employment over the past year.

„It’s a mixed bag of subjects,” says Marquis. “We had two rounds of layoffs because there were two stoppages. After the second round of layoffs, our employees looked at us and said, “We need to find another career that is stable.” Many of them have done what has put Marquis’ restaurant group in the same boat as any other company: recruiting has been so far a challenge. „[Some] Employees moved from the city altogether. We have a group of employees who are single mothers or single fathers and it was impossible to find childcare. It’s been a brutal year. “To attract old and new employees again, the minimum wage of 15 US dollars was their solution. „I just got recruited from Amazon,” she says.

Marquis led a few other initiatives like this one when the pandemic began to hit Philly’s restaurant industry. She was one of the co-founders of the Save Philly Restaurants Coalition, who managed to secure a COVID-19 test site for workers earlier this year, then organized a special vaccination Clinics among others for restaurant employees in March. This latest decision was inspired by Marquis’ desire not only to hire workers in anticipation of a busy summer, but to keep them long-term: the food service industry has a notoriously high turnover rate.

How will the group do it financially? “We had to think about it and say, ‘Okay, how are will we do that? ‘”Says Marquis. „While this can result in additional costs in the short term, significant savings in customer loyalty and lower sales are achieved in the long term.” According to a representative from Marquis & Co., menu prices will rise. „We believe that customers want to pay for good ingredients from the best sources, just like they want to eat in a restaurant that takes care of its employees.”

While Marquis recognizes that the $ 15 minimum wage is „right for us,” the same may not apply to other restaurants. „Every company does what it can,” she says. “I’m a Puerto Rican – as a Latin-owned company and as a single mother, that was part of what drove us too. If one of the effects is that other restaurants see this as an example and I can help in any way, that’s great. „

1911 East Passyunk, Philadelphia, PA 19148