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Which Restaurant Jobs Pay The Most Right Now? – Startups.co.uk

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Employee pay has been steadily increasing over the past two years as employers struggle to keep pace with rising living costs. But, while retail brands and big supermarkets have steadily raised pay, wages in the hospitality sector remain stubbornly low.

Operating costs are rising in the service industry, and bars and restaurants have taken the brunt of the blow. In our survey of 546 businesses, we found that hospitality firms were least likely to feel confident about meeting pay expectations in 2024.

Still, there are some brands that are bucking the trend. While almost every organisation pays workers the Living Wage, savvy eateries are using customer tips to top up wage packets. 

This style of pay is known as a tronc system. By subscribing to tronc, firms guarantee that all service charges are pooled and handed out to staff. That means minimum wage workers can expect to take home a higher amount than their hourly wage might suggest.

We’ve listed eight restaurant brands that pay some of the highest wages for servers using tronc. We’ve also made note of the employee benefits they offer, to show hospitality firms and job seekers what a competitive remuneration package looks like in today’s industry.

1. Angus Steakhouse

Hourly wage: up to £20.00 per hour (including tips)

Angus Steakhouse hasn’t had the best reputation. Having shrunk from 30 outlets in 2001 to just five central London locations today, the brand is best-known for its neon-lit signage that greets tourists stepping out of the Leicester Square underground exit.

However, Angus is now going through a renaissance, with a planned expansion on the cards. Its prime-rib locations in the centre of the capital mean that bartenders and floor staff can earn up to £20 per hour, including tips, according to job adverts.

What other perks do staff get at Angus Steakhouse?

Angus Steakhouse offers a fairly average benefits package, although its generous 50% discount when dining with friends and family is noteworthy.

2. Dishoom

Hourly wage: up to £18.75 per hour (including tips)

Bombay-inspired restaurant chain Dishoom was founded in 2010 by co-founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar and its delicious menu has taken the UK by storm, with every one of its ten outlets boasting out-of-the-door queues most evenings.

Job hunters should also be queuing for Dishoom and its generous hourly server wage of up to £18.75 per hour (or around £15 per hour for those based outside London). Another perk is Dishoom’s ‘Advance’ pay policy, which lets staff access weekly wages in advance.

What other perks do staff get at Dishoom?

Dishoom offers easily the best benefit package in the business, which is why it won a Sunday Times Best Place To Work award for 2024. Most excitingly, team members who work at Dishoom for five years can fly out to attend a guided tour of Bombay. Yes, really.

Dishoom staff members also receive:

  • Free sporting sessions every month, plus discounted gym memberships
  • Access to the Dishoom Premier League (an in-house cricket team)
  • 50% off when dining with friends and family
  • Day off for parents on their child’s first day of school
  • Unlimited free chai tea during every shift

3. Flat Iron

Hourly wage: up to £17.00 per hour (including tips)

Trendy TikTok sensation, Flat Iron has perfected the lean business model. Its small, steak-focused menu keeps costs low, while maintaining a high quality, consistent product, and it also provides a cherry-on-top of a free ice-cream as an extra treat for guests.

That emphasis on sustainable growth is why Flat Iron has managed to successfully expand to 15 locations across London, Leeds, and Cambridge. Wait staff at all three sites will typically earn between £15-17 per hour, including tips.

What other perks do staff get at Flat Iron?

Flat Iron’s competitive salary means it has also been recognised in the Sunday Times Best Place to Work list for 2024. Employees will get:

  • Invites to Flat Iron’s annual staff party and individual restaurant socials 
  • Paid-for trips to Flat Iron suppliers in Yorkshire and Cornwall
  • 50% off food for up to three friends, once a month 
  • Early access to 50% of wages before payday

4. Honest Burgers

Hourly wage: up to £16.45 per hour (including tips)

Honest Burgers

With a name like Honest Burgers, you’d expect the restaurant to pay a fair wage to staff. Thankfully, employees at the burger chain will earn £16.45 per hour (including tips) on average, which is over £5 more than the new National Living Wage of £11.44 per hour.

Sadly, the group – which boasts over 40 UK locations – has rolled back on its industry-leading pledge to introduce paid rest breaks. Claiming the policy was too expensive to maintain, it reportedly threatened to ‘fire and rehire’ staff who refused to say goodbye to the perk.

What other perks do staff get at Honest Burgers?

One of HB’s most interesting benefits is its ‘Craft Exchange Programme’. Staff can be paid for jobs they have an interest in, such as sign-writing, gardening or even graphic design. On top of this, workers also get:

  • One paid day off work on your birthday 
  • Up to £1,000 “Refer a Friend” scheme
  • Cycle to work scheme

5. Côte

Hourly wage: up to £16 per hour (including tips)

French bistro Côte is a true titan of the UK restaurant industry. It has over 84 sites in the UK and employs over 2,500 employees, all of whom can expect to earn up to £16 per hour (or £15.50 per hour outside of London) with tips.

Côte hasn’t always held the status of a high-pay employer. The brand found itself in hot water in 2015, when it emerged it was taking service charges from staff. Thankfully, the controversy made Côte back down. All tips are now fairly distributed under the tronc system.

What other perks do staff get at Côte Restaurant?

Compared to a trip to Bombay with Dishoom, Côte’s employee benefits package looks underwhelming. However, the brand does have some decent perks that applicants should know about:

  • 50% discount off food at any Côte
  • An unspecified ‘refer a friend’ bonus 
  • Early access to 50% of wages before payday

6. Franco Manca

Hourly wage: up to £16.00 per hour (including tips)

Franco Manca (2)

It was previously just a London staple. But pizza chain Franco Manca has rapidly expanded in the past few years to open 13 new bases (sourdough, of course) across the UK, taking its workforce to a total of 1,407 in 2023. And we’re not surprised by its recruitment win.

Unlike other pizza chains such as Pizza Express, Franco Manca’s tronc tip system means that employees can expect to earn up to £16 per hour at the brand’s central London locations (or £13.75 per hour in all other UK cities).

What other perks do staff get at Franco Manca?

Franco Manca offers all team members access to the AXA Employee Assistance Programme, which comes with a health app and counselling to improve worker wellbeing. You’ll also get:

  • Invited to Franco Manca’s annual social events
  • 25% discount off food and drink at any Franco Manca
  • An unspecified ‘refer a friend’ bonus
  • Team competitions and personal rewards

7. Pho Vietnamese Street Food

Hourly wage: up to £14.64 per hour (including tips)

Vietnam is a top tourist destination for Brits and, as the country’s popularity continues to grow, more of us are leaning into Vietnam’s delicious cuisine. That’s why Pho is opening six new sites to take its restaurant portfolio to 30 locations across the UK.

The Vietnamese chain pays its staff an above-average wage of up to £14.64 per hour. Based on that rate, an employee working 37.5 hours a week at Pho will earn an annual salary of £28,548, before tax.

What other perks do staff get at Pho?

Just like Flat Iron and Dishoom, Pho’s long menu of employee benefits is a big reason to apply to its job vacancies. Pho workers get:

  • 50% discount on food and drink for you and five friends
  • Private GP helpline and access to private prescriptions for you and your family
  • Early access to 50% of wages before payday
  • Up to £500 ‘refer a friend’ scheme

8. Rosa’s Thai

Hourly wage: up to £13.19 per hour (including tips)

Rosa’s Thai is the perfect example of a humble small business turned national megastar. Since it launched in 2006, the brand has opened over 30 sites across the UK and was even named Restaurant Group of the Year for 2023.

The company’s 642 workers all benefit from competitive pay boosted by great benefits (see below). Rosa’s career portal shows that London-based branches can expect to earn around £13.19 per hour, with tips, while employees in the rest of the UK will get £12.69 per hour.

What other perks do staff get at Rosa’s Thai?

Rosa’s stands out within the hospitality industry for its employee share scheme. It’s exactly as it sounds; if the chain sells enough of its (famously hot) drunken noodles and other dishes, you’ll take home a tax-free share of the profits. As well, all Rosa’s Thai employees get:

  • Early access to 50% of wages before payday
  • 50% off at all Rosa’s restaurants
  • Guaranteed day off on your birthday
  • Up to £500 “Refer a Friend” scheme
  • Sponsored trip to Thailand (by application only)
  • One extra day of paid leave every year starting from your third work anniversary

Should your hospitality business have a tronc system?

Tronc systems are not mandatory. Still, as the list above shows, industry leaders are using tronc’s guarantee of a fair distribution of tips to advertise a more competitive hourly rate. This results in a more attractive proposition for job hunters and lessens the labour of recruitment.

If you are thinking of starting a restaurant, adopting a tronc system might be a smart approach to rival the bigger players when paying staff. But there are some specific laws on how to introduce a tronc system to your company payroll

Read the government guidance on tips, service charges, and tronc systems in the service industry for more information.

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