From Bus Boy To Server: Healthcare For All But At A Cost - KMSP-TV

From Bus Boy To Server: Healthcare For All But At A Cost To The Diner

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Los Angeles, CA -

French bistro inspired Republique has a star chef in Walter Manzke, a dazzling location in the former home of Charlie Chaplin and controversy.  The restaurant's bill comes with a 3% surcharge to help pay for medical benefits for the staff.  That's not a typical restaurant business model where most of the staff is part time. 

Republique opened it's door in November.  Chef Manzke and managing partner Bill Chait wanted to make the restaurant a better place to work for its staff.  On the menu, the notice that the surcharge is added and it means that the entire staff from dishwashers to sous chefs, bus boys to servers could get insurance.

The chef realized that this would be controversial. There's been lots of questions, he says, but few objections and even fewer patrons have asked to have the charge taken off.

Chait told me, he wanted to offer a "small equivalency" in a place where the front of the house staff, the bartenders and servers make a lot more money than those in the back of the house, the dishwashers and food runners.

He says, by paying for the insurance as a group, everyone wins.  The restaurant can negotiate a better group rate and would help those staff members that would truly struggle if they had to buy insurance independently.

He goes on to say, that if a patron can adjust the gratuity to accommodate the surcharge, but server Deven Harrison says few do that.  It is after all 3%,  as in $1.50 on a $50 bill.

Deven also says, a restaurant is a team and he's glad all the team members get the same benefit.

But on Yelp, there are reviewers that expressed their objection.  One poster wrote, "It is not MY responsibility to take care of YOUR employee's health care.  That is YOUR job."

Chait's response the restaurant could bury the cost in the price of the food, but instead, he put the notice of the surcharge right on the menu.  That means transparency and a guarantee that the surcharge will indeed cover the health care premiums, as opposed to reports of a similar policy in San Francisco, where in 2011 only a third of the money collected went to health care.

www.RepubliqueLA.com

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