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Local restaurants increase the minimum wage for employees

Business owners say they are focused on the culture at restaurants and creating a work-life balance for employees.
Credit: 13 OYS
In a Facebook post, Andrus said a lot of good has come out of the past year as well, Things like wages and conditions, extraordinarily kind customers, and new dining spaces like the social zone set up in the Mitten's former parking lot.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As we continue to emerge from the pandemic, one of the hardest-hit industries, food and hospitality, is making some changes. One of those is increasing the minimum wage for employees.

The Mitten Brewing Company and four other businesses on the city's west side announced this week that they will guarantee at least $15 per hour for their employees. 

"Frankly we wouldn’t be here today without those extraordinary workers, it’s long past time to make a livable floor for wages," Chris Andrus, the Mitten Brewing Company owner, said.

Andrus says a lot of employees were already making $15 or above. This change mostly impacting those that work in the back of the house.

“We know that our guests will support us and continue to be generous. I just don’t want anyone to think tipping is going away because you should absolutely tip for good service and our team members are the best and they absolutely deserve it," Andrus said.

The Essence Restaurant Group which owns hot spots like Bistro Bella Vita has been proactive. It started paying its workers a $15 minimum wage early on in the pandemic. Now the owners are focused on the culture and creating a work-life balance for staff.

“We’re rolling out a new program called the five-four-five-four," James Berg, Managing Partner with the Essence Restaurant Group, said. "Every two weeks every salaried person will have three days off a week.”

Guests will likely notice changes to the prices on menus, but owners say it's minimal at only 50-cents to a dollar.

While part of that change stems from the increases in wages, they say it has more to do with inflation and the surge in food costs.

 “I think some of that pricing may be transitory or temporary but how we pay our people is not," Berg said.

Its promises business owners plan to keep as recovery from the pandemic continues.

Some restaurants in grand rapids that have been struggling to find workers are actively hiring right now.

Business owners say if you like a creative environment you should consider applying.

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