There is palpable change brewing in the way the service industry compensates employees, and Bon Me wants to be part of it. The Boston-based, Vietnamese-inspired fast casual chain announced yesterday it plans to increase hourly pay to $15, across the board, within two years.
“Such a huge part of our success has always been due to the efforts of our amazing employees, and we want to make sure we’re rewarding them in return,” Bon Me chef and owner Ali Fong says in a statement. The company, which operates six food trucks and five local, brick-and-mortar restaurants, raised its starting wages (pending a four-week training period) from $11 to $13 earlier this month. “We really hope that this raise will allow our employees to more effectively provide for their families and support the community at large.”
During a press conference announcing the plan, Fong and owner and CEO Patrick Lynch were joined by national organizers from the Fight for 15, as well as city councilor Michelle Wu and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, also an advocate of a $15 minimum wage.
Bon Me joins a small but growing sector of fast casual chains pledging to pay more than the current minimum wage, including Cambridge-born Clover, which has been hiking its menu prices this year to keep employee wages on the rise—not to mention Shake Shack.
Beyond quick-service, one by one, the restaurants in Shake Shack’s Union Square Hospitality Group are raising prices in order to eliminate the tipping system. In Boston, Juliet opened this spring with gratuity built into menu prices. The Tres Gatos restaurant group (Centre Street Cafe, Casa Verde) and upscale spots like Select Oyster Bar and Yvonne’s have added hospitality surcharges to guest checks.
Bon Me says its goals are rewarding its roughly 165 employees, attracting more new applicants, and supporting higher wages in general.
“We support the goals for of our leaders who are working hard to raise the minimum wage, and we encourage other businesses to make changes as well,” Lynch says.
The minimum wage in Massachusetts is currently $10, and will climb to $11 by 2017.
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