What Do St. Louis Restaurant Workers Really Make?

Categories: Food News

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Olle Svensson

Recently, we here at Gut Check found ourselves pondering a simple question: How much do restaurant workers in St. Louis really make?

Just about everyone seems to agree that the St. Louis restaurant scene is booming, and surely that has made a handful of restaurateurs and chefs some very decent money. But what about the people behind the scenes?

We wanted to know how much servers, bussers, sous chefs, prep cooks and others around town earn. We took a highly unscientific survey of people we know in the industry and the people they know, and compiled a short list of some of the real wages of real restaurant workers in St. Louis.

See also: St. Louis Pastor Asks Why Server Deserves Bigger Tip Than God on Receipt

Our interest in this topic is threefold. First, in an age of celebrity chefs and the Food Network, non-industry folks can be forgiven for thinking that everyone working in the hottest restaurant in town is making big money. Not so, it turns out.

Second, in a post-recession world, the price of a culinary school education is being scrutinized more than ever. We wondered: How much can these students expect to be paid in the real world?

Third, fast-food worker wages have become a hot topic both locally and nationally. Show Me $15 has demonstrated multiple times on behalf of fast food employees, who make as little as Missouri's minimum wage, or $7.50 an hour. The group would like to see that number doubled. We wanted to compare this rate to other food service jobs.

See also: Show Me $15 Protests Chipotle, Says Worker Fired for Talking About Higher Wages

As previously stated, this is hardly an exhaustive study. We asked our lovely friends and friends of friends in the restaurant world to share their pay with us on condition we not name them or their restaurants. All these figures are self-reported. Feel the premise of this list is inherently flawed? It is! But sit tight, we may have a solution at the end of the post.

  • Line chef at high-end south-city restaurant: $10/hour
  • Server at a chain steak house: $70,000
  • Entry-level cook at a four-star hotel: $13/hour
  • Click through for more and a chance -- if you'd like -- to share your own experience.

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25 comments
Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

It also depends on the restaurant. I was in four star so more money.

Margaret Lamprich Metzing
Margaret Lamprich Metzing

Scott, I wish I made that much during all my shifts but it's the industry I chose...sometimes it's closer to $30 a shift but others it's 10 times that...a good restaurant worker knows how to budget!

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

I think they make $10 plus tips. Regardless they make $150-$200 in cash a night so do the math. Say $270 divided by 7 hrs do about $37.50 hr.

Margaret Lamprich Metzing
Margaret Lamprich Metzing

There are chain restaurant where bartenders make $8 an hour plus tips...I worked in a south city bar and made great money...over $12 an hour...as far as kitchen jobs I do think there are a great deal of under paid chefs and cooks...

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Total Bullshit. Most Restaurant Workers Make Dog Crap. Take this pacifier article and shove it up your ass.

Amanda Wasserman
Amanda Wasserman

Oh this is including tips? In that case 12/hr is not so good.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

I know two girls who work at bowling alleys in south county that make $150/$200 a night. That's in 7 hours. Depends on where you work.

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

12 drinks served per hour will get you over $12 hour.

Amanda Wasserman
Amanda Wasserman

I definitely don't know any south city bartenders making $12/hr. Please, enlighten me!

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

It depends on the restaurant. I've been out if the biz since 95 but even then $80,000 was not out of range. Most is made the last part of the year with the holidays. The last year I was there one of my waiters made $28,000 between thanksgiving and New Years. Now my kitchen staff made I think around $10 per hour then

Blake Kelley
Blake Kelley

70k??? Must be giving reach arounds at the end of meals

Scott Shoemaker
Scott Shoemaker

My servers at the restaurant I was the banquet chef and dinner chef easily made $65,000 per year and that was in the early 90s. Four star restaurant. They were very good servers.

Margaret Lamprich Metzing
Margaret Lamprich Metzing

I've been a server/bartender for years and never came close to 70k...but that being said I've had some years that were better then others...as a server, it's nature of the beast, some nights you can average $20+ an hour yet others it's closer to $5 an hour...

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

I’ve been in the business for 37 yrs., a chef for the last 20. Most of these starting wages sound about right, except the server who clamed to make 70K, no way, Jose’!

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