‘Tip the Kitchen’ initiative earns staff extra $20,000 in just 3 weeks

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The sizzle at Church & Union is rare for most restaurants and it has staff saying “well done.”

“For the first time in my career, I’m actually able to save money and that’s like not a thing for a chef,” Executive Pastry Chef Emily Young says with a laugh.

The secret sauce is one simple line added to the receipt — “kitchen tip.”

It’s an opportunity for patrons to show their gratitude, not just for the wait staff, but for those working hard in the back.

“We’ve raised around $20,000 since opening which is about 3 1/2 weeks ago. That goes all to the kitchen staff,” says Regional Culinary Director for 5th Street Group, Chef Adam Hodgson. “And then company-wide, if we stay on the pace we’re going now, we will clear $700,000 by next week for five restaurants.”

Young says it’s a sweet treat she never expected.

“I’m looking at taking home an extra $15,000 a year.”

Typical kitchen wages range from $18-$21 dollars an hour.

“The lowest hourly paid employee in my kitchen bring homes $25 an hour,” explains Hodgson.

That was exactly the purpose for the “tip the kitchen” initiative, creating competitive wages and a sense of value that helps talent retention.

“The more staff I have, the more we can expand. The more they stay with us, the more I can train them, the more I can have them do bigger and better things and expand their careers,” Hodgson says.

It’s a simple change, with a thoughtful purpose, that in the end makes the company more money.

“I really hope this catches on and isn’t just something our restaurant is doing,” Young says, “That it kind of turns into changing the standards of restaurants in general.”

Hodgson agrees, “Walking into my kitchen every day, I’ve got smiles on all my cooks’ faces, and their morale is through the roof, which greatly affects the product they’re putting out.”

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