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
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Tribune-Review file
The dining room at Dinette in East Liberty.
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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 .

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