East Liberty’s Dinette named among best restaurants to work for | TribLIVE.com
Food & Drink

East Liberty’s Dinette named among best restaurants to work for

Mary Pickels
Tribune-Review file
The dining room at Dinette in East Liberty.
Heather Mull | thecafecarneg.com
Sonja Finn, chef-owner of Pittsburgh’s Dinette, is included in a recent Food and Wine listing of employers making restaurant jobs better.

The chef/owner of Pittsburgh’s Dinette is working to make restaurant jobs better.

Sonja Finn has operated her restaurant at 5996 Centre Ave. in the East Liberty Shopping Center for more than 10 years. She recently landed on a national Food and Wine report noting American restaurants operated by chefs and proprietors making the profession better for its employees.

She has 12 employees, and is noted for “top-tier wages and strong mentorship,” according to Food and Wine.

The report states that a survey considering great restaurants to work for considered three questions: What keeps restaurants from being good workplaces? Who is known for being a good restaurant employer? How can we check?

The food preparation and serving industry is among the lowest paid, the report cites. Employee turnover in the nation’s more than 640,000 restaurants averaged 72.5 percent in 2017, compared to a total private employment turnover rate of 47 percent, the survey adds.

The report also points to some good news, from boosting wages and expanding benefits to pooling tips and set schedules.

Finn formerly worked in elite West Coast kitchen, leading to a discouraging discovery.

“We are providing luxury for people (and) that luxury is supplemented by underpaying professionals,” she says in the report.

After trying tip pooling to boost kitchen staff wages, and running afoul of labor law in 2017, Finn decided to instead abolish tipping and raise prices 15 percent.

That allows her to start kitchen staff at more than double minimum wage and servers at five times the minimum, the report states.

In addition, kitchen employees accrue paid time off based on hours worked, while full-time workers are provided zero deductible health plans, with Finn paying 80 percent of the premium.

Her mentorship has led nine former employees to move on to opening their own food businesses, the study adds.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.