Thoughts on the New Minimum Wage

July 28, 2008 at 11:33 am 17 comments

For those who do not know, the federal minimum wage recently went up to $6.55/hr and will increase to $7.25 this time next year.  Great, that’s fine.  However, the server minimum wage remains the same $2.13/hour that it has been since 1991.

Read on.

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  • 1. g.peaceburton  |  July 29, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Stu, I just wanted to say thanks for posts such as this. Having never really worked in the food industry, I was unaware of issues such as this. These posts of yours have changed the way I view those who serve me at the restaurants I visit and have also drastically changed the way I tip. I think I’ve got it right now thanks to your help and advice.

  • 2. wannabetvchef  |  July 29, 2008 at 8:45 am

    No problem, G-man. A lot of people do not know, that is why I am trying to help the servers out. It would make everyone’s life easier if Congress would just fix the injustice, but the two main parties only care about how much money they can stash in overseas accounts before they crash the US economy. See you at the gas pumps!

  • 3. gail  |  August 22, 2008 at 7:31 am

    I am a server in Williamsburg, VA. The industry here is filled with illegals and people on the run. The only jobs they can get is in the food industry. At 2.13 per hour, no one cares if they are working legally or wanted for sometimes serious crimes elsewhere. If the minimum wage were to be raised, owners would look more closely at who they are hiring. This is a side of the low minimum that should be looked at. The server waiting on you may be a murder. I know of one such case.

    Answer: Raise the minimum=making owners look closer.

  • 4. simetra  |  September 11, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I thought the server minimum wage was always HALF of the current federal minimum wage! I’ve been serving for 5 years and this has usually been the case….wtf? I don’t want my new boss to read this post! Haha 🙂

  • 5. wannabetvchef  |  September 11, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    In your state the law may be that the sever minimum is always half of the legal minimum. Not all states follow the federal guidlines. Eight, in fact actually force employers to pay a fair wage for the work done.

  • 6. Ryan V  |  September 12, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Here in N.C., i believe that the minimum server wage is 2.43. Not that 30 cents makes a big difference, because servers never see that. It all goes to the government. I’m very happy to see that someone is saying something about the injustice. Most people don’t realize that by undertipping, or not tipping at all, we really are penalized by the system. Those 20% tips don’t look so go when you have 5% tips mixed in with them…

  • 7. Ryan V  |  September 12, 2008 at 12:07 am

    also, when the new minimum wage was increased, N.C. dropped their server minimum wage from the high $2 (i think it was in the 2.70’s, but I can’t be certain since I wasn’t a server at the time), to 2.43. That in and of itself was disgusting to me, to actually lower a minimum wage in a economically turbulent industry such as this.

  • 8. simetra  |  September 12, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Thanks chef, I found the MD minimum wage for servers is $3.08.

  • 9. BabyLouTattoo  |  October 5, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    2.13 in TN and people don’t tip that well

  • 10. Andrew Smith (British)  |  October 16, 2008 at 9:39 am

    I never knew that there was a different minimum wage in the USA for restaurant servers (we call them Waiters in England which is where I’m from). I have a rule of always leaving a tip in cash, even if I pay for the meal on my credit card. That way I know it goes into the waiters pocket to reflect a job well done and not to the house who probably skim a percentage in many places. I ate in Mel’s diner in San Fran last night (I’m here on holiday for a few days) and the American friend I was with told me about the difference in minimum wage for servers in the USA. The server who looked after us was nothing short of brilliant, all smiles, great fast service and she knew what she was doing. Food was great and she fixed me one of the best Strawberrry milkshakes I have ever drunk (needed an industrial suction pump to get it up the straw, held the glass upside down and it didn’t run out – that is what I call a milkshake!!!). The bill was USD$34 – we had such a great time I gave the server a USD$20 bill when we left as the tip. She earned it and deserved it. If only ever restaurant had servers f that quality the profession would be much better recognised and the wages would be at least the federal minimum for other trades.

  • 11. New JOB - Page 2 - SatelliteGuys.US  |  January 16, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    […] economy they are not getting any. The restaurant server is an endangered species in America. Thoughts on the New Minimum Wage Wannabe TV Chef – Blog 10 Reasons Why Restaurant Servers Should Receive Better Tips! – Associated […]

  • 12. jessie  |  January 27, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I’ve often wondered about this – I’ve been serving tables for 15 years and my wage is exactly the same as it was when I first began. How can that be when every single other thing in the world has increased? Thanks for the post.

  • […] it turns out the restaurant industry is exempt from US Federal minimum wage laws. Each state is free to set whatever minimum wage they deem for bartenders, bussers, servers, and […]

  • 14. sexy princess  |  May 18, 2009 at 3:13 am

    I am a server at a Waffle House in Ky. I make 2.40 an hour and it’s like I told one of my customers one night, if I don’t make tips I don’t make money. They had no idea that we don’t really get paychecks, therefore no tips means I don’t pay my bills. Some people just don’t tip no matter what kind of service they get and it totally sucks sometimes. I think it should seriously be changed.

  • 15. anne  |  June 27, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    just wanted to let you know that i work at the ihop and they take 50 cents an hour out of our 2.13 an hour wage for meals even if we dont wat the food it is mandatory so we are really only making 1.67 an hour and we arent making anything in tips lately

  • 16. kathy  |  September 27, 2009 at 11:09 am

    help need info- I’ve been with restaurant in louisville 2 years next month. My g.m. asked me to be a trainer[I am the only person with the ability to show up every morning to open,and i work 6 days a week, sometimes 7] I told him I did not want to and he asked again and said”try it for a while and if you don’t like it no harm,no fowl everything will stay the same”. After 5 weeks I told him I didn”t want to do it any more. Aweek later he and the district mgr. said they we”re taking my server pay of 3.75 per hour to 2.13 because i turned down the job of trainer. I have earned these raises over the past 2 years on previous server reviews. IS THIS LEGAL

    • 17. wannabetvchef  |  September 27, 2009 at 5:19 pm

      Was the $3.75 per hour rate given for becoming a trainer? Often restaurants give a pay differential for trainers since they do not earn tips while training new hires. However, that trainer rate should be at least $7.25 per hour (Federal minimum wage). If the $3.75 rate was for becoming a trainer then they are within their rights to take the rate back when you leave the program. If the pay rate was unrelated to your becoming a trainer then it is at the very least unethical. As far as the legality of it you would need to contact someone in the state government as there is likely no Federal statute governing this issue.

      Is your restaurant locally owned or a corporate restaurant? If corporate, contact the home office by registered mail. Be professional in your language; don’t make accusations but rather ask pointed questions. Kind of like the post you wrote here. Save copies of your letters and their responses. A lot of business owners do things they know are illegal because they are counting on you not knowing the law. With this in mind scour the Kentucky Wage and Hour Regulations website.

      If you find there is wrongdoing do not hesitate to contact the local media. Often businesses will only do what is right after poor press coverage. Ultimately, you are probably on your way to finding somewhere new to work. You may find it really isn’t worth all of the trouble for $1.62.


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."



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