Service charge

At Leah & Louise, the new 23% service charge is the start of the living wage resolution for its workers

Changes are coming to Camp North End hot spot Leah & Louise in a bid to create a sustainable career for its workers. The biggest will see an automatic 23% service charge added to all customer checks from July 15.

In what’s being called the “BayHaven Pledge,” husband-and-wife team Greg and Subrina Collier say the move is part of changes to their BayHaven Restaurant Group business model — creating consistency for its staff, regardless of slow business at Leah & Louise or one of its future concepts.

The service charge will contribute to the starting salary of $28 for front desk staff and $17 for kitchen staff. The pledge also provides current staff and new hires after 90 days with health insurance, two weeks of paid vacation, 401(k) plans, bonuses and more.

“There has been a lot of talk about how to change the hospitality industry,” Greg said in a statement Monday. “We want to make sure that our staff are treated as well as we treat our customers. We cannot be in the service business and only serve property.

He pointed out that the fee, which will replace traditional tipping, adds about $9.20 to a standard $40 check, with no increase in menu prices.

Although the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by Covid-19, compensation has long been a talking point to attract and retain workers. Workers’ stories of working long hours for low pay and a lack of comprehensive benefits have been exacerbated by the pandemic – with black and Hispanic women suffering disproportionate losses. Health risks, unemployment benefits, and lack of childcare options are some of the often-cited reasons why employees take time off or leave the industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about two-thirds of the 292,000 hospitality jobs added nationwide in May were for restaurants and bars. However, the industry still faces a 15% shortfall, a drop of 2.5 million jobs, from pre-pandemic levels.

The rapidly changing hospitality industry coupled with the pandemic prompted Greg – a two-time James Beard Award nominee – and Subrina – a 2020 James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Fellow – to start planning for changes several months ago. . The Colliers recently formed the BayHaven Restaurant Group and announced the first BayHaven Food & Wine Festival. With several concepts in the works over the next 18 months, Greg said it made sense to implement the BayHaven Pledge now.

“We have always considered ourselves leaders in the food and beverage space, so we are ready to lead the way,” he added. “If restaurants don’t find a way to improve for their employees, they will continue to lose team members, service will suffer, and their bottom line will decline. Now is the time to change. »

Leah and Louise will also be making some changes to the menu, including moving from serving small plates only to offering both small and large menu items.