Johns Island, South Carolina – Restaurants have been among the hardest hit businesses by the pandemic, and while some businesses started to recover, they are still seeing a lot problems on their way to full recovery and getting back to normal.
Since the start of the pandemic, restaurants have been closed for weeks and sometimes months, had to operate with limited capacity and had to follow tons of pandemic guidelines leading to increasing operational costs.
Just when restaurant owners thought things are slowly getting back to normal last spring, they were hardly hit by staffing shortages and supply chain issues which months later, are still two major problems.
In an effort to stay open and operational, restaurnts are looking for creative ways to offer promotions, combos and add temporarily add new items in their menus. However, a Johns Island restaurants owner came up with a completely different idea, he added 20% industry charge on all purchases.
According to the Southern General’s owner Timothy Erwin, he added this additional charge so he can increase pay to his employees, specifically kitchen staff.
“The industry in the past few years has been faced with some growing challenges. The main one, of course, there’s been a mass exodus from the industry, mainly in the back of the house,” said Erwin.
With the additional charge, he has been able to raise the pay to $18-$20 an hour and he believes that with the more competitive pay he will be able to attract new potential workers and retain the existing ones.
“We basically put everybody in the restaurant at a flat rate and we take that 20% industry charge, and we divide it up amongst the hours worked for the employees and that gives them an increased rate of pay.”
Most of the customers have asked Erwin if the added charge counts as a gratuity, which the owner explains it is not a tip. Aware that the additional charge will lower the tip for his workers, he decided to increase the hourly pay to $8, instead of the usual $2.13.
Some of his regular customers argue the new restaurant policy, but some understand their position and are ok with paying more if that helps local businesses.