Pi Pizzeria, Gringo Team Up with Mayor Francis Slay for Higher Minimum Wage

Categories: Restaurant News

thegrovepizzapi550.jpg
The "Grove" pizza at Pi Pizzeria. | Ian Froeb

Minimum wage is a hot topic across the country, especially with restaurant workers. Fast-food employees have staged countless protests over the past year. President Obama called for action in his State of the Union address.

The state minimum wage in Missouri is currently $7.50, but Euclid Hospitality group, which owns Pi Pizzeria and Gringo announced this week in conjunction with the mayor's office that it will be raising its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

See also: Fast Food Strike Expands to East St. Louis

"It's the right thing to do," Euclid co-owner Chris Sommers tells us. "We began doing analysis to make sure it wouldn't hinder our business so much that we wouldn't be able to grow or even maintain the employment of those affected by it. It was pretty telling."

Sommers says once they found they could afford to raise wages, it was a no-brainer. He says the cost more than makes up for itself in less turnover and security for their employees. Sommers has worked with the mayor's office before in the course of being a small-business owner, so it seemed like a good opportunity to try and inspire others to raise wages as well.

Mayor Francis Slay has already raised the minimum wage for all city employees. Communications director Maggie Crane says it ended up only affecting nineteen part-time employees who were making less than $10.10 -- most already made $12.21.

"This is kind of an anomaly," Crane says. "You hear a lot of restaurants or smaller retailers talking like, 'We cant afford this.' And Chris is saying 'Yeah, we can afford it.'"

Sommers also emphasizes the fact that the cost of higher wages will not be passed on to the customer. In fact, Pi hasn't raised its prices in six years, nor does it plan to.

"A little incremental difference can go a long way," Sommers says. "It's not a ton of money, but it's a big difference to those who are at the lower end of the pay structure." Euclid's new wage policy will go into effect April 1.

"Our industry overall is doing a lot better than it was from 2008 to 2010, and in most industries where there's demand for talent, rising wages follow that demand," he says. "We need to take it upon ourselves to make sure the people at the lower end of the pay grade aren't just scraping by."

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at nancy.stiles@riverfronttimes.com or follow her on Twitter.




Location Info

Pi Pizzeria-Delmar Loop

6144 Delmar Blvd., University City, MO

Category: Restaurant

Gringo

398 N. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO

Category: Restaurant


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21 comments
Rob Quiason
Rob Quiason

There are a lot of places out there that pay well above the minimum wage. The difference is they don't have to tell everybody about it. The Pi P.R. machine knows how to market their business for sure.

Rob Quiason
Rob Quiason

Shannon Marfell Doza I believe that refers to the city employees. Still I don't believe it effects more than 10% of the Pi employees.

Shannon Marfell Doza
Shannon Marfell Doza

"It ended up only affecting nineteen part-time employees who were making less than $10.10 -- most already made $12.21." Read the article. I'd expect most employees at most indie sit downs are above minimum. You just won't get the quality staff you need at $7.25. Tipped staff should scoff at $10.10.

Tom Mackie
Tom Mackie

Pi hasn't raised it's prices in six years because if they were anymore expensive no one would eat there.

Devon L Johnson
Devon L Johnson

That's hilarious my friends TV used to work there and I totally shortcut him on pay

Victoria Lopez
Victoria Lopez

If you want a quality staff, making quality food on a consistent basis, you have to pay them a livable wage. Thank you, Pi, for setting a standard. Kitchen workers in stl need more support from restaurant owners.

Adam Tilford
Adam Tilford

I agree, as you can see from my comments posted when you click on the article from Friday. The issue with minimum wage is with the fast food segment, not sit down restaurants. Basically taking the industry standard wage and making a big deal out of it.

Rob Quiason
Rob Quiason

Publicity stunt. It doesnt effect a ton of people like you would expect. Servers and other tipped employees generally make more than that. Most decent restaurants pay their kitchen line more than that. So a few hostesses and dishwashers get a raise and everybody thinks they are the greatest people in the world.

Chris Settles
Chris Settles

It also puts pressure on their smaller competitors who may not be able to afford a higher wage.

Bill Roth
Bill Roth

Why are we forced to pay on demand. When I was a kid you were paid what you were worth. A blanket wage is not a good thing.

Bunny Daulton
Bunny Daulton

We rarely eat out but if we do and the prices have increased due to the increase in wages we better eat off of clean plates, better get top notch service, in a clean enviroment, with quality food.

Tim Corkill
Tim Corkill

Just what the masses need more minumum wage jobs

Bill Roth
Bill Roth

Maybe they will put cheaper cheese on the pizza,to make a profit like some places have done,.......like pizza hump

Tiffany Newtson
Tiffany Newtson

Not only have studies of areas that increased minimum wage shown that prices didn't go up equally, you did not read the story. " Sommers also emphasizes the fact that the cost of higher wages will not be passed on to the customer. In fact, Pi hasn't raised its prices in six years, nor does it plan to." The assumption that wage increases equal higher prices indicates a simplistic understanding of economics.

Jason Allen
Jason Allen

Have to pay for it some how. People don't understand when minimum wages goes up so will everything else, but the wages for those above minimum wage.

Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell

If I have to pay a fair price to ensure people earn living wages, so be it.

RK Kittenbitz
RK Kittenbitz

And hence people like me got laid off. Thanks, assholes.

adamtilford
adamtilford

Hi Raccoozie,

Thank you very much for the props on our restaurants! We love being part of the St. Louis restaurant scene. 

When the news of this broke a few days ago we immediately looked at our own business and realized that we are already very close to the $10.10 minimum wage, for all our employees, that is being implemented by Mayor Slay and Mr. Sommers. In all our restaurants, we only have a handful of employees, some full time and some part time, that make less than $10.10 an hour, and the average for them is $9.60 an hour. But on average we pay full-time non-tipped employees well above $10.10 an hour.

In fact, most of the sit down restaurant industry uses the $9-10 mark, in my experience, as a starting point for certain positions, mainly host/hostess, dishwasher and entry level cooks. And for some it is probably even higher. But I emphasize that this is for the full service restaurant industry. The bigger issue in the restaurant industry with wages is in the fast food sector, not full service restaurants.

Regardless, this has prompted us to analyze our own pay scale and we will make some decisions about our starting wages over the next few months. We too have a high retention rate among employees and provide a great work environment. 

Thanks again for the support!

Adam Tilford

Co-Owner Tilford Restaurant Group

raccoozie
raccoozie

Great news! Hopefully Adam and Jason Tilford will join them with their great local restaurants. 

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