“We’re the only industry where half of the workforce has to rely on a customer’s goodwill”
By Maggie Hennessy, Published September 18, 2022 5:30PM (EDT)
Even though he came up in professional kitchens starting as a line cook, Ron Hsu didn’t internalize the implicit inequity and racism of the tipped wage system until he became a restaurant owner, in 2019. The Atlanta-based chef/owner of award-winning tasting menu restaurant Lazy Betty, along with Asian-Southern Juniper Cafe and the forthcoming chef-driven pizzeria Humble Pie decided instead to institute the federal minimum wage and a service-charge model at his restaurants.
It’s come with pushback — not just from some customers but from waitstaff reluctant to embrace change or loath to face confrontation with skeptical consumers. But he’s determined to be part of the — oft-maddeningly slow — change in what he sees as a deeply problematic system.