Centre St. Cafe/Tres Gatos folks and back of house workers, Jamaica Plain MA


This restaurant group is adding a 3% surcharge to the bill to increase pay to back of house workers who are paid low wages and no tips. This money goes directly to kitchen workers. I know I’ll happily pay a little more for my meal so that the folks who actually prepare it can make closer to a living wage. It actually makes me feel good about frequenting Centre St. Cafe.

Any thoughts? Agree or disagree?


I frequent both places and am happy to pay a surcharge to benefit the kitchen workers. My only comment, however, is that both these places are pretty pricey - so why such low wages to start with?


I am in support of living wage. Though the move seems to be a bit of a publicity move. Raise price 3% without anybody knowing and probably get people commenting about higher price vs raise price 3%, announcing to the public and get kudos


I guess I don’t have a problem with it being a humanitarian move as well as a political one. With Danny Meyer eliminating tipping and upping hourly wages for servers, there is a much-needed national conversation happening around restaurant pay. I think the move to increase kitchen pay, which is notoriously atrocious considering the skill required and the tough working conditions, is worth talking about on a larger scale.


Well, even the really high end kitchens usually have a notoriously low wage for the kitchen staff, except perhaps for the executive chef. It’s part of the culture, and it’s good to see people in the industry actively looking for ways to change this dynamic.


I think humanitarian and political move in one is ok. The restaurants though, if they raise price x%, should definitely funnel those extra money into extra pay. Surcharge is an area that some unethical restaurateurs abuse.


nobody would even notice a 3% increase in menu pricing. it would add $3 to a $100 meal.


you’re forgetting a fair number of boh staff does stuff like wash dishes and peel carrots. i don’t begrudge anybody better wages, but it’s not all skilled labor. but what does 3% mean? if somebody makes $10/hour, or $400 a week, an additional 3% is an extra $12. it’s laughable as far as a pay raise goes.

(Patrick Maguire) #9

Here’s a comprehensive update 1-year after implementation:



Thanks for that, Patrick. I did read the Boston Globe update and was very pleased to see that their efforts had been successful. My husband and frequently I have Saturday brunch at Centre St. and don’t even notice the fee. We’d happily pay a bit more to support equity between FOH and BOH, and never tip less because of the fee. Let’s hope that this really does become the industry standard.

If we can afford to eat out, we can afford to help to pay for a living wage for all of the restaurant’s employees.