How do you currently compensate workers?
My servers start at $15.50 per hour [the minimum wage before tips in California] and they do well in tips; most earn between $300 and $600 per shift. Servers who have been with me longer get a higher wage. And I pay my kitchen staff between $17 and $22 per hour. Our servers also tip 20% out to the bar and 10% out to the kitchen.
Every payroll period, I also look at my entire staff and offer bonuses to at least two people who I think have been going the extra mile. And when I notice staff are overwhelmed or exhausted, I organize coverage for them and give them two paid days off.
I’m also trying to give my team an environment where they don’t feel like just another employee, where they feel like they’re valued. I talk to everyone about what kind of rockstar they are to me, and make sure people know that the dishwasher is just as important, if not more important, than the cook or the chef. Everyone is also encouraged to contribute. One of our favorite desserts in the restaurant was created by our dishwasher.
Still, some critics have implied your expectations seem too high for an hourly worker. What would you say to them?
This wasn’t a set of required qualifications; I was just listing behavioral and work ethic things in a humorous way that I hoped would make applicants laugh. I mean, I would have used some of those excuses in my youth. I’m just trying to communicate to someone that this is probably not the best place for them if they’re going to call out on Coachella.
I’m actually quite generous in my absences with my staff. But with chronic short staffing at so many restaurants, the person who calls out often doesn’t realize how much pressure they’re putting on those who do show up.
What have other reactions to the ad been like?
When I heard it went viral, I was scared at first, because the internet can be a cruel place. My intent wasn’t to harm, but just to make light of these employer and co-worker frustrations and screen for the right person.
I mostly have people contacting me like, “Oh, that was funny. I’m applying for the job.” Others respond to me on Craigslist saying, “I’m not applying, but I just wanted you to know that I saw that and I thought it was funny.” Every once in a while it’s negative. This morning I got a text that said, “LOL, your ad. You are a psycho. I would fire you for posting this ad.” And sometimes I get emails where people are calling me “mean” or “a jerk” or whatever. But people take things differently from how you intend them and I can’t control that.
Have you thought about taking the listing down?
I’m still thinking about it, because I’m not sure if enough people are getting it. But some of my coworkers were like, “No, no, don’t take it down. This is what we like about this place, and we want these kinds of people to work here.” I could probably find workers without being sarcastic though, I guess.
So, did the ad work? Have you hired someone?
I’m still going through applications for this one. I don’t seem to get as many responses on these humorous ones as I used to on my regular style ads. But that is fine by me, because, so far, they’ve been more aligned with what I’m looking for. The ones who get it are the ones I’d rather interview.
That being said, I had a different ad for a bartender out, that was in the same style, and I found someone who is really great from that. And then I advertised recently in a similar fashion for a cook. I’m feeling like that employee is really strong. When they came to the interview, they said the ad made them specifically feel like they could fit in.