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By Melissa Pandika, OZY
USA Today, May 18, 2015

... The restaurant industry may finally be 86-ing low wages and long, grueling shifts. Businesses have begun replacing the hot-blooded chef screaming from an office to a mentor working on the line, offering above-minimum-wage pay and even an ownership stake. More dishwashers and line cooks participate in financial-planning meetings. And some places have even abolished tips — to guarantee a livable base wage.

At Zingerman's, everyone — from the CFO to dishwashers — participates in a weekly "financial huddle."

As foodie culture grows, diners' definition of "sustainable" often doesn't include the workers preparing and serving their food. "When there's talk about raising wages, the first to scream bloody murder are the people going, 'Where are the chickens from? Are the eggs free-range?'" says Paul Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman's, a Michigan-based collection of eateries and other food businesses. "But they're not asking, 'How are you treating the dishwasher?'" ...

At Zingerman's, everyone — from the CFO to dishwashers — participates in a weekly "financial huddle," which includes discussions on how an earning or expenditure in the operating report compares with the target amount. Employees "are more engaged and more likely to do a good job," Saginaw says. Tapping into workers' on-the-ground knowledge also helps the company make better decisions. Soon employees will be able to buy shares, and even non-partners may take turns exercising consensus powers during major meetings.

Restaurants are also increasingly grooming career chefs. Rather than hiring a prep crew and requiring cooks to work eight hours, a 10-hour shift allows Camino's cooks time to "work on the dish from all angles," says Moore. They rotate on the line and make pickles and vinegar rather than leave early on slow days. "You end up with really well-rounded cooks," says co-owner and general manager Allison Hopelain. Many restaurants promote internally, too: At Zingerman's, all partners began as regular employees.

A study by Cornell University and ROC found that each employee turnover can cost up to $14,000.

Kitchens, with an infamous and storied culture of clannishness and even lawlessness, have also begun to clean up their acts — harassment, wage stealing and the like won't fly anymore, no more than they would at, say, your brother's accounting firm. Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., for example, requires cultural competency training. ...

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