2.5% is the expected increase in sales for the restaurant industry in 2009, according to the National Restaurant Association’s industry forecast
70% is the discount restaurant.com gave on $25 gift certificates for its President’s Day sale.
"Looking in the want ads will speak volumes. Two weeks ago there were only three hospitality jobs in the want ads. In the summer there were 25 to 50. Nobody’s hiring."
—Carter Tague, Santa Fe Restaurant Association president.
While the National Restaurant Association predicts small growth this year, in Santa Fe “most restaurateurs freely admitted that business was off 10 to 20 percent” at the last Santa Fe Restaurant Association board meeting, according to its president, Carter Tague.
This slump coincides with the increase, two months ago, of Santa Fe’s living wage to $9.85 per hour for all workers. That includes servers who normally rely on tips as the bulk of their incomes.
When times are good, tip earners, who make approximately $2 per hour, generally make well over the minimum wage. When they don’t, employers must make up the difference.
Such discrepancies in pay “happen more with secondary tipped employees like bussers or food runners,” according to Jeff Jinnett, president of Santa Fe Dining, which includes Blue Corn, La Casa Sena and the Rio Chama Steakhouse. But, he adds, “it hasn’t become a big problem yet.”
Some servers, however, say they’re suffering. Kayle Koomoa at San Francisco Street Bar & Grill currently makes “anywhere from $30 to $50 a day for a shift from 9:30 to 4:30.” Another server at the same restaurant, Brittany Lindsey, says, “Last week I walked out with $17, and I was here from 4 pm to 8:30.”
If servers don’t reach the living wage over a pay period and can prove it, they’re eligible for up to three times their back wages, according to Tomás Rivera, a community organizer with the Santa Fe Living Wage Network.
Rob Day, San Francisco Street Bar & Grill’s owner and a plaintiff in a past lawsuit against the living wage law, says no one has approached him about compensation but admits, “I know that they’re struggling and they’re not doing as well, but nobody’s come up to me and said, ‘Rob, I’m not cutting it here.’”