DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) — Three Dunedin restaurants are using a new model to pay their staff.
If you eat at The Living Room, The Black Pearl or Sonder Social Club, you can expect to see a service charge on your bill.
The Feinstein Group owns the restaurants. Zach Feinstein said it’s a way to put more money into the pockets of his staff.
Feinstein explained that some staff would be commissioned employees and get a percentage of the guaranteed service charge, along with their new $1 hourly wage.
He told 8 On Your Side that the service fee is more than what servers were already getting with their “tip outs.” Servers also can receive additional tips.
“The exceptional servers are getting plenty money on top of the commission,” he said. “They take home between $35 and $55 an hour on average, and we have some doing upwards of $80 to $100, so it’s a little deceiving to say a dollar an hour because they’re coming home with more.”
He said they’re also able to pay front and back house workers more money with this new pay scale.
“Rather than bussers relying on tip-outs from servers, they’re now paid an elevated hourly rate,” he said.
But not everyone is happy about this new pay model.
“The hourly wages, those are hugely beneficial not only towards my taxes but also social security in the future,” said Tabitha Crewe, a former employee at The Black Pearl.
She is one of many former employees of The Feinstein Group speaking out against this change.
Crewe said this is a way for the restaurant owners to pocket more money. She also believes hourly wages shouldn’t decrease to $1.
“I don’t think that he shouldn’t pay the back of the house more. I think it’s an awesome opportunity to be able to do that. I just don’t think it needs to be at the cost of other employees or patrons,” Crewe said.
Crewe told 8 On Your Side that she was fired from The Black Pearl last month because they were restructuring the business and she was told she was no longer a good fit.
Feinstein said the former workers either declined new positions or were let go for disciplinary reasons, which had nothing to do with the new pay scale.